Definition of a spanner or North American monkey wrench in the works in English:

a spanner (or North American monkey wrench) in the works

A person or thing that prevents the successful implementation of a plan: even the weakest parties can throw a spanner in the works of the negotiations
More example sentences
  • The convention dictates that there must be a spanner in the works of an otherwise successful relationship, and Kissing Jessica Stein is no different.
  • So we could all do without any last-minute hitches that could throw a spanner in the works just when we think everything is about to be signed and sealed.
  • The plan goes smoothly, but femme fatale Sherry throws a spanner in the works by getting her henchmen to kill everybody.
Synonyms
interfere (with), hinder, hamper, obstruct, disrupt, impede, inhibit, retard, baulk, thwart, foil, curb, delay, set back, slow down, hold back, hold up; restrict, restrain, constrain, block, check, curtail, frustrate, cramp, bridle, handicap, cripple, hamstring, shackle, fetter, encumber
informal stymie
North American informal bork, put/throw a monkey wrench in the works of
See parent entry: work

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day dissonant
Pronunciation: ˈdɪs(ə)nənt
adjective
lacking harmony