screw·​up | \ ˈskrü-ˌəp How to pronounce screwup (audio) \

Definition of screwup

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : one who screws up

screw up

screwed up; screwing up; screws up

Definition of screw up (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to tighten, fasten, or lock by or as if by a screw
b : to cause to act or function in a crazy or confused way : confound, disturb

intransitive verb

: to botch an activity or undertaking

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of screwup in a Sentence

Noun That was a major screwup. She's a screwup who can't hold down a job. Verb we all screw up from time to time, so don't sweat it you've totally screwed up the spreadsheet
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But, the film’s emotional stakes come not from any big plot reveal, but from the performance of Emilia Clarke as Kate, the lovable screwup at the center of the tale. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Last Christmas Is a Welcome Dose of Sweetness," 6 Nov. 2019 In a screwup, the phosphorus exploded not over the target but over the men. Michael Schulman, The New Yorker, "Adam Driver, the Original Man," 21 Oct. 2019 That’s the kind of screwup-trifecta that can wake a person up to this fact. Carolyn Hax, The Mercury News, "Carolyn Hax: She humiliated my boyfriend in public, and I’m paying the price," 18 Sep. 2019 That's the kind of screwup-trifecta that can wake a person up to this fact. Carolyn Hax, oregonlive, "Carolyn Hax: Friend needs to be called out for her bad temper," 18 Sep. 2019 Gabe is a bit of a screwup — though Diana uses more colorful language to describe him. Matthew J. Palm,, "CFCArts opens season with moving, well-cast ‘Next to Normal’ | Review," 16 Sep. 2019 Right now, though, the simplest explanation seems like the most persuasive one: Epstein wanted out, and a series of screwups allowed him to beat the system, again. John Cassidy, The New Yorker, "Jeffrey Epstein and the Mysterious Deaths of the Rich and Ruined," 12 Aug. 2019 But in one of those human-error screwups that confirm all the worst assumptions of those who believe government can’t do anything well or efficiently, the warning went not unheeded so much as unseen. Kevin Cullen,, "At the Registry of Motor Vehicles, deadly inefficiency," 2 July 2019 The project—and tight-fisted Congress—probably can't handle more cleaning solvent screwups. Eric Niiler, WIRED, "Delays, Rising Costs Plague NASA's James Webb Space Telescope," 27 June 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The moment was lovely, despite my disappointment at screwing up a chance to see a shipwreck. Beth Spotswood,, "Doomed on a quest to spot Bay Area shipwrecks," 4 Sep. 2019 And sure, some prosecutors have really screwed up cases here and there. Rubén Rosario, Twin Cities, "Rosario: On mental illness, dissing prosecutors and some bandwagon Twins fans …," 17 Aug. 2019 Did Mueller screw up on the campaign finance side of his investigation? Garrett M. Graff, WIRED, "The Definitive Congressional Guide to Robert Mueller’s Mind," 22 July 2019 But there is no fundamental reason that your and my health care and insurance must be so screwed up to achieve that goal. John H. Cochrane, WSJ, "The Tax-and-Spend Health-Care Solution," 29 July 2018 Thanks for coming to our little town, screwing up traffic for hours and sucking up local tax dollars that could have been better spent on the actual needs of our community. Andrea Simakis,, "One woman’s guide to surviving Trump: writing him daily — Andrea Simakis," 11 Aug. 2019 Biden, in fact, doubly screwed up by not only getting the locations of the shootings wrong, but also mixing up the order, as the El Paso shooting occurred before the one in Dayton. Patrick May, The Mercury News, "Donald Trump confuses Toledo with Dayton, fails to mention Gilroy in mass shooting remarks," 5 Aug. 2019 Guys screw up in the NFL all the time — just look at the draft. David Furones,, "Here’s what will determine FAU’s quarterback competition during fall camp," 3 Aug. 2019 Over time, one of several things can happen to screw up this wonderful feat of engineering., "Car Talk: Her Lincoln Town Car can’t weather the storms," 2 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'screwup.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of screwup


1844, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1625, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about screwup

Statistics for screwup

Last Updated

12 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for screwup

The first known use of screwup was in 1625

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for screwup


How to pronounce screw up (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of screwup

informal + disapproving
: a mistake or error
: a person who often makes mistakes especially about important things : someone who often screws up

More from Merriam-Webster on screwup

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for screwup

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with screwup

Comments on screwup

What made you want to look up screwup? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


not being in agreement or harmony

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Confusing Words—A Quiz

  • alice with tweedle dee and tweedle dum
  • I invented a brand new toaster robot and ______ it "Sir Toasts-a-Lot."
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!