Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

screw up - definition and synonyms


What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.



The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

phrasal verb
Word Forms
present tense
I/you/we/theyscrew up
he/she/itscrews up
present participlescrewing up
past tensescrewed up
past participlescrewed up

Related words

  1. 1
    [intransitive/transitive] very informal to make a serious mistake, or to spoil something, especially a situation
    I really screwed up this time, didn’t I?
    He made a bad decision that screwed up his entire life.
  2. 2
    [transitive] informal to make someone feel so upset or confused that their whole personality is affected, often permanently
    Divorce doesn’t have to screw your children up.
  3. 4
    [transitive] to make something into a smaller shape by squeezing or twisting it
    Several pages had been screwed up and tossed in the basket.
  4. 5
    screw up the courage/nerve to do something to prepare mentally for doing something difficult
    I’m trying to screw up enough nerve to ask her a favor.
See also main entry: screw


… a feeling of pleasure you get from spending time doing what you want and not worrying about what other people are doing or saying

BuzzWord Article

Word of the Day

Mardi Gras

shrove tuesday

Open Dictionary

brain fade

a temporary inability to think clearly or remember information

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog