span·​ner ˈspa-nər How to pronounce spanner (audio)
chiefly British : wrench
: a wrench that has a hole, projection, or hook at one or both ends of the head for engaging with a corresponding device on the object that is to be turned

Illustration of spanner

Illustration of spanner
  • spanner 2

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Numerous business deals have been known to unravel under the bright light of media publicity cast at an inopportune time, so the expose could potentially throw a spanner in exploratory talks to sell a multimillion-dollar stake to venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. Christiaan Hetzner, Fortune, 7 Feb. 2022 Yet the existence of these errors is the fatal spanner in the works of Mitchell's whole case. Neuroskeptic, Discover Magazine, 7 July 2014 Until the Covid-19 pandemic threw a spanner in the works, Giles had been growing from strength to strength. Austa Somvichian-clausen, Robb Report, 1 Mar. 2023 The cash crunch threw a spanner in the works of Nigeria’s $220 billion informal economy, prompting Buhari to extend the use of old naira notes as legal tender alongside the new ones until April 10. James Bwala, ABC News, 25 Feb. 2023 Last night's episode of the dating show threw a true spanner in the works when Felix Von Hofe came face-to-face with contestant Jessica's real-life boyfriend, Damien. Alicia Vrajlal,, 17 Jan. 2023 The story seemed pretty straightforward, but Henrik Mouritsen threw a spanner in the works. Ed Yong, Discover Magazine, 28 Aug. 2012 However, a new paper just published in PLoS ONE could throw a spanner in the works of the thriving Google Books research paradigm. Neuroskeptic, Discover Magazine, 10 Oct. 2015 However, protests, which began around the same time, threw a spanner in Adani’s gear. Niharika Sharma, Quartz, 28 Nov. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'spanner.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


German, instrument for winding springs, from spannen to stretch; akin to Middle Dutch spannen to stretch — more at span

First Known Use

circa 1790, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of spanner was circa 1790

Dictionary Entries Near spanner

Cite this Entry

“Spanner.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 May. 2023.

Kids Definition


span·​ner ˈspan-ər How to pronounce spanner (audio)
chiefly British

More from Merriam-Webster on spanner

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