Gum Up the Works

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To destroy something or cause damage, make something worse by breaking or throwing


  • This expression is believed to have originated in the 19th century, the time when machines were made on large scale. Most of the machines needed lubrication to run smoothly. Sometimes it happened that while giving oil to machinery, the oil became so thick and sticky that it caused great hindrance in smooth functioning of the machine. Today if anything or anyone who “gums up the work” is considered to have spoiled the plan, activity, or anything considerable.

Annals younger brother is so naughty that he gums up all the things in her room.

Submitted on February 25, 2019


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"Gum Up the Works." STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 18 Feb. 2020. <>.

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