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From Middle English wrek, from Anglo-Norman wrek, from Old Norse *wrek (Norwegian and Icelandic rek, Swedish vrak), from Proto-Germanic *wrekaną, whence also Old English wrecan (English wreak), Old High German rehhan, Old Saxon wrekan, Gothic 𐍅𐍂𐌹𐌺𐌰𐌽 (wrikan).


  • enPR: rĕk, IPA(key): /ˈɹɛk/
    • (file)
    • Rhymes: -ɛk
  • (obsolete, dialectal) enPR: răk, IPA(key): /ˈɹæk/[1]


wreck (plural wrecks)

  1. Something or someone that has been ruined.
    He was an emotional wreck after the death of his wife.
    Synonym: basket case, mess
  2. The remains of something that has been severely damaged or worn down.
  3. An event in which something is damaged through collision.
    1. (specifically, nautical) A shipwreck: an event in which a ship is heavily damaged or destroyed.
  4. (law, not countable) Goods, etc. cast ashore by the sea after a shipwreck.
    • 1985, “Criminal Code (R.S.C., 1985, c. C-46)”, in Justice Canada[2], retrieved 9 September 2021:
      2. ... Wreck includes the cargo, stores and tackle of a vessel and all parts of a vessel separated from the vessel, and the property of persons who belong to, are on board or have quitted a vessel that is wrecked, stranded or in distress at any place in Canada.
  5. (ornithology) A large number of birds that have been brought to the ground, injured or dead, by extremely adverse weather.
    • 1988, Michael Cady, Rob Hume, editors, The Complete Book of British Birds, page 89:
      [I]n 1952 more than 7,000 were involved in such a "wreck" in Britain and Ireland.


Derived terms[edit]



wreck (third-person singular simple present wrecks, present participle wrecking, simple past and past participle wrecked)

  1. (transitive) To destroy violently; to cause severe damage to something, to a point where it no longer works, or is useless.
    He wrecked the car in a collision.
    That adulterous hussy wrecked my marriage!
    1610–1611 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Tempest”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act I, scene ii]:
    Supposing that they saw the king's ship wrecked.
  2. (transitive) To ruin or dilapidate.
  3. (transitive, obsolete) To plunder goods from wrecked ships.
  4. (transitive, Australia) To dismantle wrecked vehicles or other objects, to reclaim any useful parts.
  5. (transitive) To involve in a wreck; hence, to cause to suffer ruin; to balk of success, and bring disaster on.
    • 1595, Samuel Daniel, “(please specify the folio number)”, in The First Fowre Bookes of the Ciuile Wars between the Two Houses of Lancaster and Yorke, London: [] P[eter] Short for Simon Waterson, →OCLC:
      Weak and envy'd, if they should conspire, / They wreck themselves, and he hath his Desire.
  6. (intransitive) To be involved in a wreck; to be damaged or destroyed.
    • 2020, Marti Talbott, McShane's Bride, page 112:
      [] Mrs. Marleen Ketchum was not quite certain if the train wrecked or if the volcano blew its top. It took a moment before she was certain it had to be the passenger train.



Derived terms[edit]



  1. ^ Krapp, George Philip (1925) The English Language in America[1], volume II, New York: Century Co. for the Modern Language Association of America, →OCLC, page 92.

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