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screw up - definition and synonyms

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

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  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

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