I'm doing a formal writing essay and I'm using a phrase from an online source. The phrase is:

You’re screwed.

What is an alternative, more formal term I could use?

  • 10
    This sounds a bit like 'writing advice' which is off-topic here. But in any event *Your screwed' doesn't make sense. Perhaps it should read 'You're screwed'. I would also mention that your final sentence is full of errors. Try 'If not what's an alternative phrase I could use?'.
    – WS2
    Mar 17, 2015 at 6:51
  • 10
    Leonard from The Big Bang Theory: "attached to another object by an inclined plane, wrapped helically around an axis" Mar 17, 2015 at 13:07
  • 10
    I believe fornicated is the formal version of screwed.
    – tchrist
    Mar 17, 2015 at 14:04
  • 6
    Note that if you're quoting an online source, you should leave the phrase exactly as it is. "In this story, Alice says to Bob, 'You're screwed.'" Mar 17, 2015 at 16:17
  • 6
    And if you're quoting, and the source really does say "your", you should write "your [sic] screwed".
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 17, 2015 at 21:38

8 Answers 8


First of all, it should be you're, not your.

You can use this more formal phrase: "You're doomed."

  • 9
    "And you can use the more formal equivalent: You are doomed." (In formal writing, contractions tend to be avoided)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 17, 2015 at 9:46
  • 3
    Thanks, English is my second language. I'm always happy to learn.
    – Zikato
    Mar 17, 2015 at 11:26
  • 2
    See-Threepio agrees; "We're doomed".
    – Mazura
    Mar 17, 2015 at 22:49

Fix your "your/you are" mistake and do not use contractions in formal writing.

The answer to your question depends on how strong your statement needs to be. You could use a mild version You are in trouble, or possibly you are out of options now. The already suggested you are doomed is a bit more dramatic. As a threat, it could be replaced by you are finished.


That really depends on the context, and how the individual is 'screwed'. We can't tell you what word or phrase best replaces it, because this is not the place for writing advice, but we can give you some suggestions.

In the case that this person is 'screwed' because their plans haven't gone the way they want, or in the case that some fatal flaw has ruined their plans, you could say "you have been undone" or "you are ruined" to express that idea.

There is a problem with each one though; the former is a polite way of saying their plans have been actively defeated, while the latter suggests a general loss on the person, but could be a bit excessive for what you're looking for. So make sure you use these in the right context.


In addition to the other suggestions, here are some alternatives in an approximate order of more formal -> less formal, at least by my reading

  • you've found yourself in a conundrum
  • you're in a bind
  • you're out of luck
  • you're at the end of the road
  • you're done for
  • you're dead
  • you're screwed
  • you're fucked
  • 1
    where would you place 'you're up shit creek and no paddle'? I would go for between 'you're dead' and 'you're screwed'/
    – JMP
    Mar 18, 2015 at 12:05
  • @JonMarkPerry "You're up shit creek without a paddle" or "You're up shit creek with no paddle" is what I would say, by the way, if I ever were to say that. It's definitely informal but sounds more like a joke. Only use it when the situation might call for a joke to lighten the mood. OTOH, "You're screwed." is not a joke. It's a direct assessment of a bad state of affairs.
    – Brandin
    Apr 15, 2015 at 7:18
  • any relation to 'screw you'?
    – JMP
    Apr 15, 2015 at 9:16
  • @JonMarkPerry Saying "you're screwed" is an observation (phrased in a rude manner) where you point out that the person is in a bad state of affairs. OTOH, telling someone "screw yourself" is a rude command that actively instructs someone to voluntarily subject themselves to conditions that would lead to a bad state of affairs (kind of like saying "Go jump off a cliff or something!"). "Screw you" is pretty much the same as "screw yourself", but it emphasizes "you" more strongly.
    – Brandin
    Apr 15, 2015 at 11:16
  • I meant pronoun-verb to verb-pronoun plus major/minor tense/ad- alterations, but thanks for the info. Here's a good one:rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/59528/…
    – JMP
    Apr 15, 2015 at 11:20

"In serious trouble" is a bit wordy, but gets the point across without breaking formality. "Doomed" might also work if you believe that there is well and truly no good way out of the subject's predicament.

If the goal of the statement includes humor, then you could try understatement by using something like "in a bit of a spot".


If you are quoting from an online source, do not CHANGE any wording. The genteel way to quote it is

  • You're scr***d.

Depending on the finality of the statement, if the person is definitely 'screwed' with no chance of redemption, you could use you're finished.


What about:

"your future is bleak"

"you're in a dire situation"

"A negative outcome is ineluctable"

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