• 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 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