9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[span-er] /ˈspæn ər/
a person or thing that spans.
Also called spanner wrench. a wrench having a curved head with a hook or pin at one end for engaging notches or holes in collars, certain kinds of nuts, etc.
Compare pin wrench.
Chiefly British. a wrench, especially one with fixed jaws.
Origin of spanner
1630-40; span1 + -er1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for spanner
  • For example, he says, radio waves could be used to make a scaled-up version of an optical spanner.
  • Ok, not to put a spanner in the works, but these scientists do not truly understand the power of the atom.
  • Mike made an excellent point about his behaviour not necessarily being rational, which does rather throw a spanner in the works.
  • In doing so, it may have thrown a spanner into the works of the world's computer models of the climate.
  • If true, that is a spanner in the works for those designing quantum gravity.
  • Obstreperous local authorities could still put a spanner in the works.
  • Some disabled drivers use what is called a spanner bar to help them steer.
British Dictionary definitions for spanner


a steel hand tool with a handle carrying jaws or a hole of particular shape designed to grip a nut or bolt head
(Brit, informal) a source of impediment or annoyance (esp in the phrase throw a spanner in the works)
Word Origin
C17: from German, from spannen to stretch, span1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for spanner

1630s, a tool for winding the spring of a wheel-lock firearm, from German Spanner, from spannen (see span (v.)). Meaning "wrench" is from 1790. Figurative phrase spanner in the works attested from 1921 (Wodehouse).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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