"to throw a monkey wrench in the works"/ " don't throw a spanner in the works"

Anne Frank

Senior Member
Russian
Hi natives! In American English you have the idiom "to throw a monkey wrench in the works", British people say " don't throw a spanner in the works", I have a question: do you use these two for only work-related situations, or the daily ones too?
For example, may I say: she really loves your son, don't throw a spanner in the works.
 
  • sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Don't let "works" confuse you into thinking it applies to work-related situation.

    works:
    • Mechanical Engineering the working parts of a machine:the works of a watch.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    The same applies in BrE. "Throw a spanner in the works" can be used for any situation where something or someone prevents something from happening, or creates difficulty.

    However, your original expression "Don't throw a spanner in the works" is not particularly idiomatic. I am not saying that you cannot use it, but the usual use is to describe something that has happened or the probable effect of something, rather than as an imperative.
     
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