Green’s Dictionary of Slang

screwy adj.

1. drunk [screwed adj. (1)].

[UK]Punch XIII 213/2: His runken vocabulary consists of Lushy, Screwy, Groggy, Touched, Elevated, and innumerable others.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 19 Nov. 3/2: He was a leetle screwy at the time and his brain [...] obfuscated by divers glassses of sherry.
[UK]Thackeray Newcomes II 85: Blest if I didn’t nearly drive her into a wegetable cart. I was so uncommon scruey!
[UK]Taunton Courier 19 Aug. 8/5: The first degree was that of sobriety [...] the ninth, ‘screwy’.

2. mean.

[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor I 295/1: Mechanics are capital customers [...] they’re not so screwy.
[UK]E.K. Wood Johnny Ludlow I 301: For once in his screwy life, old Brown was generous.

3. worn out [screwed adj. (3)].

[UK]R. Broughton Red as a Rose xix n.p.: The oldest and screwiest horse in the stables [F&H].
[US]F. Hutcheson Barkeep Stories 7: ‘Blow back t’ town [...] wid a paper suit an’ a screwy overcoat an’ a pair o’ yellow shoes [etc]’.

4. (orig. US) in senses derived from a screw loose under screw n.1

(a) foolish, stupid, insane.

[US]Lantern (N.O.) 8 Oct. 3: Notes which are so full of screwy talk.
[US]G. Bronson-Howard Enemy to Society 259: Keep your hand on your stick; if the old guy draws a gun or a knife or tries to do anything screwy, brain him!
[US]A.J. Barr Let Tomorrow Come 213: That guy’s screwy, policeman.
[US]E. Anderson Thieves Like Us (1999) 101: All that screwy stuff got out of his goddam head.
[US]P. Wylie Generation of Vipers 238: Having found every world balance of power a screwy device.
[SA]H.C. Bosman Cold Stone Jug (1981) II 137: Act up as if you’re screwy. But not too much, mind. Just enough to get the old horse-doctor really interested in you.
[Aus]Cessnock Eagle (NSW) 4 Oct. 4/2: Screws all around and round. I ain’t been so screwed down before. / Yes, I’m going screwey, that’s what they say.
[US]T. Anderson Your Own Beloved Sons 95: If this ain’t the screwiest set-up, I’ll be a sonofabitch.
[UK]K. Waterhouse There is a Happy Land (1964) 37: Shu-ut up, screwy! [...] It’s you that’s blinking screwy, man!
[UK]A. Sillitoe Start in Life (1979) 269: I thought I’d go screwy if she said another word in this tone.
[UK]R. Dahl Twits (1982) 75: ‘He’s nutty!’ ‘He’s screwy!’.
[UK]K. Sampson Powder 389: In his screwy mind, these two English kids were fucking with him by trying to turn up late at his door.
[US]T. Udo Vatican Bloodbath 87: Yeah, dat kinda makes some kinda screwy sorta fucken sense!
[US]T. Piccirilli Fever Kill 68: The missed opportunity, the screwy rendezvous, the dead girl.

(b) odd, strange.

[US] in G. Legman Limerick (1953) 19: A young Juliet of St. Louis / On a balcony stood, acting screwy.
[US] ‘Jiggs in “Phew”’ [comic strip] in B. Adelman Tijuana Bibles (1997) 15: Sump’n screwy about this.
[US]‘Hal Ellson’ Duke 9: The whole block was empty, but it looked screwy-like, strange.
[US]J. Thompson Swell-Looking Babe 99: Didn’t that strike you as pretty screwy?
[US]C. Himes Big Gold Dream 73: There was something screwy about this business.
[US]T. O’Brien Going After Cacciato (1980) 252: Then where’d you get such a screwy name?
[US]C. Hiaasen Tourist Season (1987) 317: It was obvious from the pained expressions on these unusually young and muscular looking Shriners that something was screwy.
[US]C. Hiaasen Lucky You 300: Obviously something was screwy, or Sinclair would have been in the lobby.
[US]Time 31 Jan. 8: So just who came up with this screwy idea?
[UK]Guardian Guide 13 Feb. 15/1: [He] told a room of producers that he was on the hunt for ‘screwy and fucked-up’ programme ideas.

(c) (US) suspicious, alarmed.

[US]R. Chandler ‘Finger Man’ in Pearls Are a Nuisance (1964) 108: When I saw them go on up the street I got screwy.

(d) illegal; counterfeit.

[UK]P. Cheyney Dames Don’t Care (1960) 22: It is a federal offence to change bonds that are screwy.
[UK](con. 1939) R. Westerby Mad in Pursuit 173: Even an ordinary fight they had to muck about with. One of them had to be told it was screwy.
[UK]R.L. Pike Mute Witness (1997) 10: The whole deal is screwy.

(e) (US) sexually obsessed.

[US]E.W. Calder ‘Black 13’ in Spicy Adventure Stories Aug. [Internet] Do you know you drive me nuts, Yolande? Do you know I’m screwy about you?

5. weak, malfunctioning, broken.

[US]J.H. Burns Lucifer with a Book 74: He’s got a bad tummy [...] Something screwy in his duodenum.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 207: I turned her down because I knew she had a screwy ticker.
[Aus] A. Bergen ‘Dread Fellow Churls’ in Crime Factory: Hard Labour [ebook] My screwy focus righted itself.