monkey wrench

noun
1.
Also called, especially British, adjustable spanner. a wrench having an adjustable jaw permitting it to grasp nuts or the like of different sizes.
2.
something that interferes with functioning; obstacle: He threw a monkey wrench into our plans.

Origin:
1855–60

Dictionary.com Unabridged

monkey-wrench

[muhng-kee-rench]
verb (used with object)
1.
to ruin (plans, a schedule, etc.) unavoidably or, sometimes, deliberately: The storm monkey-wrenched our plans for a picnic.
verb (used without object)
2.
to prevent, delay, or sabotage industrialization or development of wilderness areas, especially through vandalism.

monkey-wrencher, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To monkey wrench
Collins
World English Dictionary
monkey wrench
 
n
a wrench with adjustable jaws

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Example sentences
Of course, the weather can throw a monkey wrench in any observation plans.
It throws a monkey wrench at some long held, deeply ingrained beliefs.
The monkey wrench in all this that you seem to point to is that you can not
  have stars without galaxies.
If they fail, then they will have thrown a gigantic monkey wrench into the
  wheel of global economic and political progress.
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