It's commonly said that one puts or throws a "[monkey] wrench/(BrEng) spanner" in the "works", but what does one put a "crimp" into?

CRIMP Google Image

  1. the act of crimping.

  2. a crimped condition or form.

  3. Usually crimps. waves or curls, especially in hair that has been crimped.

  4. the waviness of a fiber, either natural, as in sheep wool, or produced by weaving, plaiting, or other processes.

  5. a crease formed in sheet metal or plate metal to make the material less flexible or for fastening purposes.


  1. (chiefly US) put a crimp in: to interfere with; hinder: His broken leg put a crimp in their vacation plans.

(Random House)

put a crimp in noun phrase

To thwart or hamper; block or interfere with; stymie: How can we put a crimp in this guy's plans?

[1896+; from the notion of a severe pinching-in as an obstacle] (emphasis mine.)

crimp noun

A restriction; obstacle : He kept putting crimps into my plan


: I'll crimp him good with this nasty new rule (1896+)

(The Dictionary of American Slang)


Since one can also put/throw a wrench in someone's plans, I'm looking for another word than "plans," a word analogous with works. This doesn't necessarily have to be idiomatic.


(Mechanical Engineering) the interior parts of the mechanism of a machine, etc. the works of a clock.

Source: Collins English Dictionary

Please, consider the following examples:

We were hoping to get the project started in June but the funding was withdrawn so that rather threw a spanner in the works.

We were hoping to get the project started in June but the funding was withdrawn so that rather put a crimp in the [word].


The sudden withdrawal of the guest speaker really threw a monkey wrench in the works.

The sudden withdrawal of the guest speaker really put a crimp in the [word].

Source: Cambridge Advanced Learners' Dictionary

  • We don't throw a wrench but a spanner in the works. I've never heard of a crimp into anything, but occasionally there is a fly in the ointment (I believe the latter from the AV bible).
    – WS2
    May 8, 2016 at 9:08
  • 2
    I think you need to consider the two set phrases, the first includes "works" in its form, the second has no specific idiomatic term to be used with.
    – user66974
    May 8, 2016 at 9:37
  • 2
    Someone crimps your style.
    – Hot Licks
    May 8, 2016 at 12:21
  • 1
    @Elian I think one throws the spanner into the works, and that it is less often the case that the works belong to one single individual than that the style does. To put a crimp in my style is to interfere with my attempt to present myself in a particular, flattering light. Oddly, the idiom with crimp is almost entirely interchangeable with one with cramp, as in "Get lost, you're cramping my style." May 8, 2016 at 12:43
  • 1
    tubing and hoses can be crimped causing a decrease in the inside diameter and this a reduction in the flow rate for a given pressure.
    – Jim
    May 8, 2016 at 14:48

3 Answers 3


Crimp is a generic term when used in the following idiomatic expression:.


  • put a crimp in/on something: (North American English, informal) to have a bad or negative effect on something
    • *I’m sorry to put a crimp in your plans.



  • 1863, from crimp (v.). Originally "natural curl in wool fiber." To put a crimp in (something) is 1896, U.S. slang.

Usage examples:

  • The objective of this mission is to put a crimp in the way people move drugs into the United States. Clancy, Tom CLear and present danger (1989)

  • Power cuts are threatening to put a crimp in Christmas.

  • Here's am earlier attestation (1879) of the slang meaning books.google.com/….
    – TimR
    May 8, 2016 at 11:43
  • @Tim Romano - good finding.
    – user66974
    May 8, 2016 at 14:03

Is there a sense of choke suggested by your "[1896+; from the notion of a severe pinching-in as an obstacle]" and the idea of both crimping a pipe (to reduce flow) and crimping a spade lug to a wire that might fit?

A spanner in the works suggests a grinding halt where a crimp is more likely to slow but not stop proceedings.


How about

put a crimp in his campaign put a crimp in the good cause put a crimp in his crusade

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