Date: Mon, 29 Jun 1998 22:26:43 -0500
From: Mike Salovesh
Subject: Re: monkey-wrench

Yongwei Gao wrote:
> Dear all,
> Have you ever seen the following two words:
> 1. monkey-wrench It s a mushrooming p.r. cloud that threatens to
> damage Microsoft both explicitly (if Justice decides to monkey-wrench
> Gates Windows 98 plans) and implicitly, by hampering his ability to
> influence future legislation on such crucial Infobahn issues as
> copyright protection and encryption. (97/11/24 Time p78) The word
> should mean "to destroy, to sabotage", but does it have any bearing to
> "monkey-wrencher' used in environmental contexts?

A monkey wrench is a tool with and adjustable head. A single monkey
wrench can be used to turn different sizes of nus and bolts without a
need for changing wrenches.

The secondary meaning of "monkey wrench" is, indeed, "sabotage". It is
a shortened form of the phrase "throw a monkey wrench in the machinery".

British English calls the tool a "spanner", and the parallel British
phrase is "throw a spanner in the works".

The British phrase thus makes sense out why Beatle John Lennon chose "A
Spaniard in the works" as a book title.

-- mike salovesh
anthropology department
northern illinois university PEACE !!!