Definition of thumbscrew in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈTHəmˌskro͞o/


1A screw with a protruding winged or flattened head for turning with the thumb and forefinger.
Example sentences
  • As we can see from the rear shot, these panels are removed via thumbscrews and Phillips screws.
  • In the Weaver-based sight pictured here, windage is adjusted by turning two, locking, Allen-head windage screws opposite the thumbscrew.
  • With a large thumbscrew, you can adjust the lever pivot in or out and hence vary the leverage ratio.
2 (usually thumbscrews) An instrument of torture for crushing the thumbs.
Example sentences
  • The other mutineers, after torture with thumbscrews, were whipped and had ashes, salt and pepper rubbed into their wounds.
  • As he was walking past a ship chandler's shop, he was shocked to see handcuffs, leg shackles, and thumbscrews in the window.
  • One is not bound to regard torture as only present in a mediaeval dungeon where the appliances of rack and thumbscrew or similar devices were employed.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: thumb·screw

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.