use-icon

HOW TO USE THE DICTIONARY

Learn what the dictionary tells you about words.

Get Started Now!

Some compound words (like bus rapid transit, dog whistle, or identity theft) don’t appear on the drop-down list when you enter them into the search window. If a compound term doesn’t appear in the drop-down list, try entering the term into the search window and then hit the search button (instead of the “enter” key). Alternatively, begin searches for compound terms with a quotation mark.

use-icon

THE USAGE PANEL

The Usage Panel is a group of nearly 200 prominent scholars, creative writers, journalists, diplomats, and others in occupations requiring mastery of language. The Panelists are surveyed annually to gauge the acceptability of particular usages and grammatical constructions.

The Panelists

puzzle-icon

NEED HELP SOLVING A CROSSWORD PUZZLE?

Go to our Crossword Puzzle Solver and type in the letters that you know, and the Solver will produce a list of possible solutions.

open-icon

INTERESTED IN DICTIONARIES?

Check out the Dictionary Society of North America at http://www.dictionarysociety.com

open-icon

AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY APP

The new American Heritage Dictionary app is now available for iOS and Android.

scroll-icon

INDO-EUROPEAN & SEMITIC ROOTS APPENDICES

Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

Indo-European Roots

Semitic Roots

The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

open-icon

OPEN DICTIONARY PROJECT

Share your ideas for new words and new meanings of old words!

Start Sharing Now!

100-words-icon

See word lists from the best-selling 100 Words Series!

Find out more!

screw (skr)
Share:
n.
1.
a. A cylindrical rod incised with one or more helical or advancing spiral threads, as a lead screw or worm screw.
b. The tapped collar or socket that receives this rod.
2. A metal pin with incised threads and a broad slotted head that can be driven as a fastener by turning with a screwdriver, especially:
a. A tapered and pointed wood screw.
b. A cylindrical and flat-tipped machine screw.
3. A device having a helical form, such as a corkscrew.
4. A propeller.
5. A twist or turn, as of a screw.
6. Slang
a. A prison guard.
b. The turnkey of a jail.
7. Vulgar Slang The act or an instance of having sexual intercourse.
8. Chiefly British Slang
a. Salary; wages.
b. A small paper packet, as of tobacco.
c. An old broken-down horse.
d. A stingy or crafty bargainer.
v. screwed, screw·ing, screws
v.tr.
1. To drive or tighten (a screw).
2.
a. To fasten, tighten, or attach by means of a screw or similar fastener.
b. To attach (a tapped or threaded fitting or cap) by twisting into place.
c. To rotate (a part) on a threaded axis.
3. To contort (one's face).
4. Slang
To treat (someone) unfairly; exploit or cheat: screwed me out of the most lucrative sales territory.
5. Vulgar Slang To have sexual intercourse with.
v.intr.
1. To turn or twist.
2.
a. To become attached by means of the threads of a screw.
b. To be capable of such attachment.
3. Vulgar Slang To have sexual intercourse.
Phrasal Verbs:
screw around
1. Slang To act or fool around aimlessly or in a confused way and accomplish nothing.
2. Vulgar Slang To be sexually promiscuous.
screw over
Slang To treat (someone) unfairly.
screw up
1. To muster or summon up: screwed up my courage.
2. Slang To make a mess of (an undertaking).
3. Slang To injure or damage: Lifting those boxes really screwed up my back. That decision screwed up my career.
4. Slang To cause (someone) to be emotionally or mentally troubled: His father's harshness really screwed him up.
Idiom:
have a screw loose Slang
To behave in an eccentric or mentally deranged manner.

[Middle English skrewe, from Old French escrove, female screw, nut, perhaps from Medieval Latin scrōfa, from Latin, sow; see sker-1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

screwa·ble adj.
screwer n.
(click for a larger image)
screw
left to right: round-head machine screw, flat-head wood screw, and round-head wood screw

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

This website is best viewed in Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or Safari. Some characters in pronunciations and etymologies cannot be displayed properly in Internet Explorer.