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From Middle English wrecche, from Old English wreċċa (“exile, outcast”), from Proto-Germanic *wrakjô (“exile, fugitive, warrior”), from Proto-Indo-European *wreg- (“to track, follow”). Doublet of garçon.
wretch (plural wretches)
- An unhappy, unfortunate, or miserable person.
- 1742, Henry Fielding, chapter 12, in Joseph Andrews:
- The poor wretch, who lay motionless a long time, just began to recover his senses as a stage-coach came by.
- 1789, Watkin Tench, chapter 14, in The Expedition to Botany Bay:
- The four unhappy wretches labouring under sentence of banishment were freed from their fetters, to rejoin their former society; and three days given as holidays to every convict in the colony.
- An unpleasant, annoying, worthless, or despicable person.
- 1740, Samuel Richardson, chapter 71, in Pamela:
- Swear to me but, thou bold wretch! said she, swear to me, that Pamela Andrews is really and truly thy lawful wife, without sham, without deceit, without double-meaning; and I know what I have to say!
- 1823, Walter Scott, chapter 32, in Saint Ronan's Well:
- I asked that selfish wretch, Winterblossom, to walk down with me to view her distress, and the heartless beast told me he was afraid of infection!
- 1885, Richard F. Burton, The Supplemental Nights to the Thousand Nights and a Night, Night 532:
- […] Alaeddin ate and drank and was cheered and after he had rested and had recovered spirits he cried, "Ah, O my mother, I have a sore grievance against thee for leaving me to that accursed wight who strave to compass my destruction and designed to take my life. Know that I beheld Death with mine own eyes at the hand of this damned wretch, whom thou didst certify to be my uncle; […]
- (archaic) An exile. (Can we add an example for this sense?)
unhappy, unfortunate, or miserable person
unpleasant, annoying person
exile — see exile
- Misspelling of .