• WordNet 3.6
    • n spanner a hand tool that is used to hold or twist a nut or bolt
    • ***
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • spanner A contrivance in some of the earlier steam engines for moving the valves for the alternate admission and shutting off of the steam.
    • spanner An iron instrument having a jaw to fit a nut or the head of a bolt, and used as a lever to turn it with; a wrench; specifically, a wrench for unscrewing or tightening the couplings of hose.
    • spanner One who, or that which, spans.
    • spanner The lock of a fusee or carbine; also, the fusee or carbine itself.
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n spanner One who or that which spans.
    • n spanner An instrument for clasping and turning a nut on a screw, or for any similar purpose, as turning the wheel in cocking the old wheel-lock firearms, fastening and unfastening the couplings of fire-hose, etc.; a screw-key or screw-wrench. Spanners are made either with a hole to fit the shape of the nut, as square or hexagonal, or with movable jaws that can be tightened over a nut or a coupling of any shape.
    • n spanner A cross-brace.
    • n spanner In the parallel motion of a marine steam-engine, a rod which connects the jointed rods with the radius-bar; also, in some of the earlier engines, the hand-bar or lever by which the valves were moved for the admission and shutting off of the steam.
    • n spanner A span-worm or looper.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Spanner one who spans: an iron tool or lever used to tighten the nuts of screws
    • ***


Spanner in the works - (UK) If someone puts or throws a spanner in the works, they ruin a plan. In American English, 'wrench' is used instead of 'spanner'.
Throw a spanner in the works - (UK) If you throw a spanner in the works, you cause a problem that stops or slows progress on something that was going well.


Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
A.S. spanspannan; Ger. spannespannen.


In literature:

Everything got spicker and spanner each day.
"Laddie" by Gene Stratton Porter
With a spanner and a couple of clear hours I could make these maxims about as deadly as bicycles.
"Greenmantle" by John Buchan
I'm looking the spanner.
"The Drone" by Rutherford Mayne
The spanner caught him on the shoulder, and he grunted in pain, but he kept on moving away from Mellon.
"Unwise Child" by Gordon Randall Garrett
We could each snatch a spanner and give the war-heads a terrific blow.
"The Submarine Hunters" by Percy F. Westerman
I could hear McConkey's spanner ringing against the iron of his gun.
"The Red Hand of Ulster" by George A. Birmingham
Here's my hammer to ring them true and my spanner to wrench them tight.
"The Great Keinplatz Experiment and Other Tales of Twilight and the Unseen" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
We can dig with our spanners.
"Sinister Street, vol. 1" by Compton Mackenzie
There was "no spanner to fit the union," and Rattray darkly hinted at further trouble.
"The Lightning Conductor" by C. N. Williamson
It had become a habit with Fernie to place his loaded shot-gun by his side when he went to sleep, and he invariably had a large spanner handy.
"The Witch Doctor and other Rhodesian Studies" by Frank Worthington
In tightening a nut with a spanner the spanner had slipped.
"The Boy with Wings" by Berta Ruck
I think I'd try to find out if anybody borrowed one of Porter's spanners when I went in again.
"By Right of Purchase" by Harold Bindloss
When they reached the edge of the breaking, Harding stopped the engine, and, taking a spanner from a box, turned to look about.
"Harding of Allenwood" by Harold Bindloss
Mr. Spanner won't mind talking business before you, will you, George?
"The King of Schnorrers" by Israel Zangwill
There's a good deal to do, and you're not going to feel it quite so much once you get hold of the spanner.
"For Jacinta" by Harold Bindloss
Anyway, you can't have that jack and spanner.
"Thrice Armed" by Harold Bindloss
I gave Pollock his instructions, and left with him, as a crew, Ted Milner and George Spanner.
"The Cruise of the 'Alerte'" by E. F. Knight
Drop the spanner first.
"The Million Dollar Mystery" by Harold MacGrath
Go and get the spanners, and ast Sid for a new rope, and look sharp about it!
"Life in a Railway Factory" by Alfred Williams
Hawkins took a huge spanner.
"The Great Airship." by F. S. Brereton

In news:

Jeff Loomis joined me for a cold one and conversation back on July 28 when he came through Tomcats West in Fort Worth as a part of the Intrinsic 2012 North American Tour with The Contortionist, 7 Horns 7 Eyes and Chimp Spanner.
Inside Google Spanner , the Largest Single Database on Earth.
Putin's Spanner In The Works.
"I used a spanner wrench," Souder said.
Designed for 5S applications, it secures spanner wrenches, toolholders, collets and cutting tools in one central location.

In science:

Since their problem is more general, their hardness results do not apply to TC-spanners.
Transitive-Closure Spanners
Sparse 2-TC-spanners Imply Efficient Monotonicity Testers In this section we restate and prove Lemma 1.1, referred to in the introduction.
Transitive-Closure Spanners
Let M be a sparsest spanner on G which possibly uses shortcut edges of types other than k − 1.
Transitive-Closure Spanners
Suppose now that we could approximate the size of the sparsest k-TC-spanner within γ1 log n for some γ1 > 0.
Transitive-Closure Spanners
If G is a graph drawn from a minor-closed graph family that is s-path separable, for s = Θ(1), then G has a 2-TC-spanner of size O(n log2 n) and, more generally, a k-TC-spanner of size O(n · log n · λk (n)) where λk (·) is the k-row inverse Ackermann function.
Transitive-Closure Spanners
First we describe a preprocessing step resembling in which the digraph is divided into subgraphs so that constructing TC-spanners for each subgraph individually results in a TCspanner for the entire graph.
Transitive-Closure Spanners
Then, we show how to efficiently construct sparse 2-TC-spanners for each of these path separable subgraphs.
Transitive-Closure Spanners
By claim E.3, any two vertices with a dipath between them must For 1 ≤ i ≤ t, let Gi k-TC-spanner for G is the union of k-TC-spanners for each Gi .
Transitive-Closure Spanners
We describe how to construct H , a 2-TC-spanner for G of size O(n log2 n).
Transitive-Closure Spanners
The above construction efficiently produces a 2-TC-spanner on G of size at most O(n log2 n).
Transitive-Closure Spanners
The construction results in a 2-TC-spanner because every pair of related vertices (u, v) is a cut pair at some level of the outer recursion.
Transitive-Closure Spanners
Let us first see why connecting every cut pair by a path of length at most 2, and recursing on smaller components produce a 2-TC-spanner for G.
Transitive-Closure Spanners
In this case, constructing a 2-TC-spanner on the subgraph induced by this C suffices to connect u and v by a path of length at most 2.
Transitive-Closure Spanners
If the strong path separators can be found in polynomial time, as is guaranteed, for example, in Theorem E.1, then it is clear that the above 2-TC-spanner can be constructed efficiently.
Transitive-Closure Spanners
We now prove the part of Theorem E.2 concerning k-TC-spanners for general k .
Transitive-Closure Spanners