(A), meaning a small quantity, is in allusion to the
habit of putting a small quantity of small articles into a “screw of
An old screw.
One who keeps his money tight, and doles it out in screws or small
quantities. To put on the screw.
To press for payment, as a
screw presses by gradually-increasing pressure. Raised your screw.
Raised your wages.
“ `Has Tom got his screw raised?' said Milton.” —Truth: Queer
Story, 18th February, 1886.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894