Throwing sand in the machine

  • Beryl from Northallerton

    Senior Member
    British English
    I would understand that to mean measures whose purpose was to halt or delay the flight to gold. I've never heard of 'throwing sand on the machine', but I have heard similar expressions, such as 'sabotage' (throwing clogs in the machine), and 'putting a spanner in the works'.
     

    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    "Throw sand in the gears" is a fairly common phrase, meaning much the same as "throw a spanner (AE monkey wrench) in the works."
     

    Linkway

    Senior Member
    British English
    I would expect the sandy expression to mean made less effective, obstructed, hindered or something like that.

    Putting a spanner in the works would cause damage and probably bring everything to a halt.
     

    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    Depending how fine the tolerances in the gears are, and how fast they're turning, sand could also cause serious damage.
     

    dadane

    Senior Member
    English-London
    For what it's worth, I am familiar with this expression, it is not uncommon, but I have never heard it used by a BE speaker - we stick to spanners. I assume from RM1's comments that it is an adjusted form of an AE saying. I understand it to be exactly synonymous with "put a spanner in the works".
     
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