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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


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.
    • 1713, Joseph Addison, Cato, published 1712, [Act 5, scene 1]:
      the wrecks of matter and the crush of worlds
    • 1595, Edmunde Spenser [i.e., Edmund Spenser], “[56 (please specify the sonnet number or title)]”, in Amoretti and Epithalamion. [], London: Printed [by Peter Short] for William Ponsonby, OCLC 932931864; reprinted in Amoretti and Epithalamion (The Noel Douglas Replicas), London: Noel Douglas [], 1927, OCLC 474036557:
      Hard and obstinate / As is a rock amidst the raging floods, / 'Gainst which a ship, of succour desolate, / Doth suffer wreck, both of herself and goods.
    • 1883, John Richard Green, The Conquest of England
      Its intellectual life was thus able to go on amidst the wreck of its political life.
  4. (law) Goods, etc. cast ashore by the sea after a shipwreck.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Bouvier to this entry?)


Derived terms[edit]



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

  1. 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!
  2. To ruin or dilapidate.
  3. (Australia) To dismantle wrecked vehicles or other objects, to reclaim any useful parts.
  4. 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 28470143:
      Weak and envy'd, if they should conspire, / They wreck themselves, and he hath his Desire.



Derived terms[edit]