turn the screw(s) (on someone)

(redirected from turn the screw on him)

turn the screw(s) (on someone)

To exert excessive and coercive pressure, force, or threats of violence on someone. The bank has really started turning the screws on me ever since I began missing my mortgage payments. I'll send one of my men around to him tomorrow to start turning the screw. Then we'll see if Johnny's still so sure he won't sign the contract.
See also: turn

turn the screw on someone

or

tighten the screw on someone

INFORMAL
COMMON If someone turns the screw on you or tightens the screw on you, they do something in order to defeat you or in order to make you do what they want. The supermarkets group turned the screw on its troubled rival yesterday, revealing strong sales figures and an expansion of its network. The attacks are seen as an attempt to tighten the screw still further on the government. Note: You can also simply say that someone turns the screw or tightens the screw. Perhaps it's a final attempt to turn the screw and squeeze a last concession out of us. Note: You can also use the plural screws in these expressions. The quickest way to end the violence is surely to tighten the screws on the leader. Note: You can call each action done to defeat or put pressure on someone a turn of the screw or a tightening of the screw. Every rebel raid, however small, is another turn of the screw, increasing the pressure on the President. Opposition parties see the changes as a further tightening of the screw. Note: This is a reference to a method of torture called the thumbscrew. The prisoner's thumbs were pressed between two bars of iron which were then tightened by means of a screw.
See also: on, screw, someone, turn
References in classic literature ?
Perhaps our talking of them will arouse the poet who will tell the hidden wonder story of the influence for which the hands were but fluttering pennants of promise.
No wonder Krajiek got the better of these people, if this was how they behaved.
Her unlooked-for achievement was the subject of wonder, applause, and admiration.
I used to wonder how my little charges could help guessing that I thought strange things about them; and the circumstances that these things only made them more interesting was not by itself a direct aid to keeping them in the dark.
No wonder, taking the whole fleet of whalemen in a body, that out of fifty fair chances for a dart, not five are successful; no wonder that so many hapless harpooneers are madly cursed and disrated; no wonder that some of them actually burst their blood-vessels in the boat; no wonder that some sperm whalemen are absent four years with four barrels; no wonder that to many ship owners, whaling is but a losing concern; for it is the harpooneer that makes the voyage, and if you take the breath out of his body how can you expect to find it there when most wanted
That's no wonder," said John; "didn't you know that Farmer Grey's old Duchess was the mother of them both?
The sudden termination of Colonel Brandon's visit at the park, with his steadiness in concealing its cause, filled the mind, and raised the wonder of Mrs.
This is where I used to walk up and down and wonder and wonder.
How can you reconcile it to your conscience, I wonder, to prejudice my own boy against me, or against anybody who is dear to me?
I had scarcely had time to enjoy the coach and to think how like a straw-yard it was, and yet how like a rag-shop, and to wonder why the horses' nose-bags were kept inside, when I observed the coachman beginning to get down, as if we were going to stop presently.
Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her and to wonder what was going to happen next.
The whole court went out to see the wonder, and their astonishment was great at the sight which met their eyes.
What I now affirm is, that I have a right to speak of these seas, under which, in less than ten months, I have crossed 20,000 leagues in that submarine tour of the world, which has revealed so many wonders.
Long stayed the messenger, and deeper grew his wonder that the Fairy could have left so fair a home, to toil in the dreary palace of his cruel master, and suffer cold and weariness, to give life and joy to the weak and sorrowing.
And, indeed, it was terrible and wonderful; for it is we alone who, swayed by the audacity of our minds and the tremors of our hearts, are the sole artisans of all the wonder and romance of the world.