Thursday, January 13, 2011

To put a spanner in the works

This is a spanner.

The works is another term for a machine.

What would happen if you put a spanner in the works?

It would break and stop. That's exactly what workers used to do when they needed a rest from the demanding machines that they worked with.

Becoming a slave to machinery was already a worry in the time of Charlie Chaplin.

Here's an extract from the film Modern Times.