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.

1630–40; span1 + -er1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
spanner (ˈspænə)
1.  a steel hand tool with a handle carrying jaws or a hole of particular shape designed to grip a nut or bolt head
2.  informal (Brit) a source of impediment or annoyance (esp in the phrase throw a spanner in the works)
[C17: from German, from spannen to stretch, span1]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Example sentences
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.
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