Definition of screw something up in English:

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screw something up

1Crush a piece of paper or fabric into a tight mass: he screwed the note up and threw it away
More example sentences
  • His eyes flickered, and he screwed the paper up in his fist.
  • He turns the radio off and screws the paper up in a ball and swears that the dictator had the right idea after all.
  • Once you do that you can take your ballot paper and screw it up and throw it away if you want.
1.1Tense the muscles of one’s face or around one’s eyes, typically so as to register an emotion or because of bright light: Christina screwed up her face in distaste Willie screwed up his eyes and peered upwards
More example sentences
  • She looks down, screws up her face and peers at me.
  • Margaret listens quietly to our opinions, then screws up her face, deep in thought.
  • Squint your eyes, screw up your face and study the glossy frames and you'll find them fascinating.
wrinkle (up), pucker, crumple, crease, furrow, contort, distort, twist, purse
2 informal Cause something to fail or go wrong: why are you trying to screw up your life?
More example sentences
  • Have I done something wrong, did I screw something up?
  • If you do the steps wrong, you screw it up.
  • If he thinks I'm doing something wrong or if I break something or screw something up he gives me extra cleaning duties to do at closing time.
wreck, ruin, destroy, devastate, wreak havoc on, reduce to nothing, damage, spoil, mar, injure, blast, blight, smash, shatter, dash, torpedo, scotch, make a mess of, mess up
informal louse up, foul up, put the kibosh on, banjax, do for, blow a hole in, nix, queer
British informal scupper, cock up, dish
Australian informal euchre, cruel
vulgar slang fuck up
archaic bring to naught
3Summon up one’s courage: now Stephen had to screw up his courage and confess
More example sentences
  • The scene in which the host and hostess of the tavern screw their courage up before murdering Thomas Cole has been seen as an analogue to Macbeth.
  • I screwed up my courage to ask him what was uppermost in my mind.
  • I've been trying to screw up the courage to call you ever since.
See parent entry: screw
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