messed up/screwed up

Discussion in 'English Only' started by firecracker, Mar 14, 2006.

  1. Hello,

    I've heard the second expression (screwed up), and as far as I understand it has the same meaning as "messed up". Isn't it rude or vulgar?

  2. It is a bit vulgar (don't say it to your grandmother -- although she probably wouldn't mind) but is in very common use for most occasions in AE.
  3. lsp

    lsp Senior Member

    US, English
    I always understood that "screwed up" is not vulgar, that its origins have to do with the twisty contortions of a screw, rather than its more recent usage referring to sexual intercourse.
  4. CAMullen Senior Member

    US, English
    I'm afraid I'll have to cast a vote with carrickp. There are a few words in use today by people who seem not to be aware of their (by now former, I guess) connotations. I think "screwed" is less blatantly vulgar than, say, "suck," but only because its sexual connotations are deeper in the past; but they were both considered very vulgar, at least at one time.
  5. Ok.. thanks a lot guys!
  6. drei_lengua

    drei_lengua Senior Member

    Hello Firecracker,

    Here are the terms to use to refer to a situation that has not gone as expected in order from most vulgar to least vulgar:

    "fucked up" :warning:
    "screwed up"
    "messed up"

  7. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Screwed up has no sexual connotation in my mind.
    But my innocence often gets me into trouble ...

    It is used by many people who would never dream of saying fucked up, and who would never use it if they thought that had been its origin.
  8. drei_lengua

    drei_lengua Senior Member

    I agree with panjandrum. "fucked up" and "screwed up" have no sexual connotation whatsoever in how they are used although the infinitives "to fuck" and "to screw" have heavy sexual connotations.

    Person 1: "I got into a bad accident today."
    Person 2: "I bet that your car is really fucked/screwed/messed up."

    Person 1: "Did you hear about John?"
    Person 2: "No, what happened?"
    Person 1: "He got caught putting poison in the soup at school."
    Person 2: "Well, they should have been able to foresee this. He is so fucked/screwed/messed up in the head."

  9. Saurabh

    Saurabh Senior Member

    New Delhi City
    English-British, Hindi
    What does Screw-up actually mean?

    Is it the same as Messed-up?

    I believe Messed-up means mixing the things/tasks i.e. in a puzzled state(of mind).

    Correct me if I'm wrong there, please. Could you please provide contexts too where both the words be used?

    Many Thanks,
  10. pickarooney

    pickarooney Senior Member

    Provence, France
    English (Ireland)
    "Screw-up" (the noun) is a big mistake.
    "To screw up" is to make such a mistake.
    "Screwed up" is something which has been severely damaged or very poorly designed.
  11. Saurabh

    Saurabh Senior Member

    New Delhi City
    English-British, Hindi

    Thanks a lot,
  12. cubbissimo Senior Member

    US Spanish
    "screwed up" can also qualify the situation in which a person is; a very bad, disadvantageous and/or unfortunate one.

    "I'm screwed up."
  13. bluegiraffe

    bluegiraffe Senior Member

    Nottingham, England
    English - England
    Wouldn't this just be "I'm screwed"?
  14. Esca

    Esca Senior Member

    USA - English
    These phrases talk directly about something getting ruined:

    "[The car] is screwed up" = Something bad happened to it, and now it's in disarray/ruined.
    "I screwed [the car] up" = I made a big mistake and now the car is in disarray/ruined.

    These are a bit different:

    "I'm screwed up" = I have serious personal (perhaps mental) problems.
    "I'm screwed" = I'm in a disastrous situation where something bad is almost certainly going to happen.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2009
  15. Saurabh

    Saurabh Senior Member

    New Delhi City
    English-British, Hindi

    I've always been wondering wot does up actually mean and what meanings it could bring in if added at the end of a word like you did herein above.
    According to me up means at top or to start.
  16. bluegiraffe

    bluegiraffe Senior Member

    Nottingham, England
    English - England
  17. Saurabh

    Saurabh Senior Member

    New Delhi City
    English-British, Hindi
  18. roeslp New Member

    I think this expression comes from the early days of the typewriter. When someone made an error, he'd have to 'screw up' the drum in order to erase the error.
  19. Silva89 Member

    Portuguese Brazil
    Hello guys,

    Is it possible to use ''fuck(up) and screw(up)'' to mean ''ruin something'' , but without the adverb ''up''?

    I know it doesn't sound quite natural, but I've seen some people using fuck/screw something without the ''up'', is that right ?

  20. LaVache

    LaVache Senior Member

    English- American
    We say both.

    I'm screwed up. This reflects more personal shame.
    I'm screwed. Outside circumstances made your situation difficult.

    "Screwed up" is not as vulgar as "Fuck up" and is commonly used in casual circumstance. I personally would not use this when speaking with an employer or in more formal situation.
  21. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    It's difficult to answer confidently without examples, but if you take the very specific example of the past participle/ adjective, it is natural (though considered offensive by many) to say that something is 'fucked', without 'up', generally meaning it is damaged without any possibility of recovery.
    So one might say of a terminally-damaged device of some kind, 'It's fucked.' It would not be natural to say of the same device either 'It's screwed,' or 'It's messed.'

    Very importantly, if you want to use such terms as a confession, to indication that some serious mishap is entirely your fault, the 'up' is essential.
    Thus, you could make your confession with 'I fucked up,' 'I screwed up,' or 'I messed up.' But very definitely NOT 'I fucked,' 'I screwed,' or 'I messed.'
  22. LaVache

    LaVache Senior Member

    English- American
    "Screw you" would be an example of using screw without the adverb up. This is a way to tell someone you don't like them and you hope that bad things will happen to them.

    You would never hear "He screwed" or "She's screwing" used in the context of a mistake. This would be used to indicate someone had sex with someone else in a very vulgar way.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2016
  23. Silva89 Member

    Portuguese Brazil
    I knew it was missing something, so let's take these sentences as examples:

    If I'd joined their group, I'd be fucked(up)/screwed(up) now. I knew beforehand that those guys were criminals.
    Dude, you have no family, no friends, no money, in other words, you're fucked(up)/screwed(up).

    In those sentences, is the adverb up mandatory?

    Thank you.
  24. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Your examples are very helpful.
    Here, I would not include 'up'.
    Similarly, in these sentences 'up' seems unnatural to me.

    Which leaves me wondering about the difference between two very simple sentences:
    (1) I'm fucked.
    (2) I'm fucked up.​

    I suggest that (1) is mostly about external factors. There are many bad things about my life, relationships, whatever. I'm in serious trouble and I can see way that things could improve.
    (2) is mostly about my feelings, it's internal and emotional.

    The same difference seems to apply with 'screwed'.

    I wonder if I am imagining this?

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