English idioms: screw up

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Today we give you a two-for-one deal: the phrase to screw something up and the noun screw-up.

"I forgot what I was going to say and completely screwed up my presentation. It was so embarrassing!"

To screw something up.


If you screw something up, it means you you make a mistake, damage something, or spoil something.

"What kind of punishment do you give to employees who screw up important projects?"

So, can you guess what it means if you call a person a screw-up?

"Bill is the only screw-up in a family of successes; it seems he can’t do anything right."

If you call someone a screw-up, it means that they are someone who makes a lot of mistakes or very bad decisions.

"Screw up" is also a synonym for a mistake, a blunder, or badly handled situation.

"Bill lost his job because his constant screw-ups were costing the company a fortune."

So Bill is a screw up, and he’s always screwing up!

Authentic Example

Today’s authentic example comes from the BBC Online:

Internet giant AOL has apologised for releasing the search queries of more than 650,000 of its US subscribers.

The company admitted the release to researchers was ‘a screw up’ and had breached the privacy of its users.

See how to screw something up is used.

See how the noun screw up is used.

Dictionary link for "screw up"

That’s all from 2-minute English for today; we’ll see you next time!