Definition of thumbscrew
1 : an instrument of torture for compressing the thumb by a screw
2 : a screw having a flat-sided or knurled head so that it may be turned by the thumb and index finger
Recent Examples of thumbscrew from the Web
Qualcomm CEO not optimistic about Nokia talks [Reuters] CEO Paul Jacobs turns the thumbscrews on Nokia, which would probably very much like to renew its licensing agreements with chipmaker and patent house Qualcomm.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'thumbscrew.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
First Known Use of thumbscrew
THUMBSCREW Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of thumbscrew for English Language Learners
: a device used in the past to torture people by crushing their thumbs
: a type of screw with a flat-sided head that can be held and turned with your thumb and fingers
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up thumbscrew? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).