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See also: Wrack



Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English wrake, wrache, wreche, from a merger of Old English wracu, wræc (misery, suffering) and Old English wrǣċ (vengeance, revenge). See also wrake.


wrack (plural wracks)

  1. (archaic, dialectal or literary) Vengeance; revenge; persecution; punishment; consequence; trouble.
  2. (archaic, except in dialects) Ruin; destruction.
    • c. 1593, Christopher Marlowe, Hero and Leander[1], page 7:
      Therefore, in sign her treasure suffered wrack,
      Since Hero's time hath half the world been black.
  3. The remains; a wreck.
    • 2011, John Jeremiah Sullivan, “Mr. Lytle: An Essay”, in Pulphead:
      Lytle was already moaning in shame, fallen back in bed with his hand across his face like he'd just washed up somewhere, a piece of wrack.
Alternative forms[edit]
Derived terms[edit]


wrack (third-person singular simple present wracks, present participle wracking, simple past and past participle wracked)

  1. (UK dialectal, transitive) To execute vengeance; avenge.
  2. (UK dialectal, transitive) To worry; tease; torment.

Etymology 2[edit]

Piles of wrack (marine vegetation) on a beach shore

Late Middle English, from Middle Dutch wrak, ultimately related to Proto-Germanic *wrekaną (to drive out), the source of wreak and wreck.[1] Doublet of vraic.

Cognate with German Wrack, Old Norse rek, Danish vrag, Swedish vrak, Old English wræc); also compare Gothic 𐍅𐍂𐌹𐌺𐌰𐌽 (wrikan), 𐍅𐍂𐌰𐌺𐌾𐌰𐌽 (wrakjan, persecute), Old Norse reka (drive).


wrack (countable and uncountable, plural wracks)

  1. (archaic) Remnant from a shipwreck as washed ashore, or the right to claim such items.
  2. Any marine vegetation cast up on shore, especially seaweed of the family Fucaceae.
  3. Weeds, vegetation or rubbish floating on a river or pond.
  4. A high flying cloud; a rack.
    • 1892, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes[2], HTML edition, The Gutenberg Project, published 2011:
      A dull wrack was drifting slowly across the sky, and a star or two twinkled dimly here and there through the rifts of the clouds.
Derived terms[edit]
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


wrack (third-person singular simple present wracks, present participle wracking, simple past and past participle wracked or wrackt)

  1. (transitive, usually passive voice) To wreck, especially a ship.
  2. Alternative form of rack (to cause to suffer pain, etc.)
Usage notes[edit]

Frequently confused with rack (torture; suffer pain), though traditionally means “wreck”. Etymologically, wrack and ruin (complete destruction) and storm-wracked (wrecked by a storm) are the only terms that derive from wrack, rather than rack. However in usage forms such as nerve-wracking are common, and considered acceptable by some authorities; see usage notes for rack.

Derived terms[edit]


  1. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, 1884–1928, and First Supplement, 1933.