Simple Definition of wreak
: to cause (something very harmful or damaging)
Examples of wreak in a sentence
Gangs have been wreaking mayhem in the city.
Did You Know?
Wreak is a venerable word that first appeared in Old English as wrecan, meaning "to drive, drive out, punish, or avenge." "Wrecan" is related to a number of similar words in the Germanic languages, including Middle Dutch "wreken" ("to punish, avenge"), Old High German rehhan ("to avenge"), Old Norse "reka" ("to drive, push, or avenge"), and Gothic "wrikan" ("to persecute"). It may also be related to Latin urgēre ("to drive on, urge"), the source of the English verb "urge." In modern English, vengeance is a common object of the verb "wreak," reflecting one of its earlier uses in the sense "to take vengeance for" - as when Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus proclaims "We will solicit heaven, and move the gods / To send down Justice for to wreak our wrongs."
Origin of wreak
Middle English wreken, from Old English wrecan to drive, punish, avenge; akin to Old High German rehhan to avenge and perhaps to Latin urgēre to drive on, urge
First Known Use: before 12th century
WREAK Defined for Kids
Definition of wreak for Students
: to bring down as or as if punishment <The storm wreaked destruction.>
Seen and Heard
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