screw up - definition and synonyms

phrasal verb
present tense
I/you/we/theyscrew up
he/she/itscrews up
present participlescrewing up
past tensescrewed up
past participlescrewed up
  1. 1
    [transitive] to make something into a smaller shape by squeezing or twisting it

    Several pages had been screwed up and tossed in the basket.

  2. 2
    [transitive] if you screw up your eyes, you close them tightly
    1. a.
      if you screw up your face, you pull your forehead down and push your mouth and nose up, usually to show that you dislike something
  3. 3
    [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.

  4. 4
    [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.

  5. 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 favour.

See also main entry: screw