Gum up the works
Gum up the works : Phrases
Screw something up.
If you're not careful, you could really gum up the works.
This phrase is related to the red gum or sweet gum tree, found in the eastern U.S. Early settlers chewed the sticky sap - especially children who loved its sweet taste. However, getting the stuff out of the tree was virtually impossible to do without getting it all over yourself. So was getting it out of your hair and clothes!
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