ship·​wreck | \ ˈship-ˌrek How to pronounce shipwreck (audio) \

Definition of shipwreck

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a wrecked ship or its parts
2 : the destruction or loss of a ship
3 : an irretrievable loss or failure


shipwrecked; shipwrecking; shipwrecks

Definition of shipwreck (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to cause to experience shipwreck
b : ruin
2 : to destroy (a ship) by grounding or foundering

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Synonyms for shipwreck

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of shipwreck in a Sentence

Noun Only a few sailors survived the shipwreck. The crew narrowly avoided shipwreck. Divers searched the sunken shipwreck. Verb the yachtsman fell asleep at the wheel and shipwrecked his ketch on the rocks
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun By the time Florida became a United States territory in 1821, shipwreck salvage had become a profitable undertaking. Joy Wallace Dickinson,, "Head-turning crane spurs dive into shipwreck history," 4 Oct. 2020 Swedish scuba divers found the historic shipwreck in the 1970s. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, "Well-Preserved Atlantic Sturgeon Found in 15th-Century Danish Shipwreck," 8 Sep. 2020 Columbus' flagship, the Niña, survived the tropical storm of 1495 just as a modern-day replica of the Niña survived a near shipwreck when Hurricane Sally struck its mooring in Pensacola last week. al, "Christopher Columbus replica ships survive Hurricane Sally in Alabama, Florida," 25 Sep. 2020 Also in 2018, a vacationer on a North Carolina beach captured drone footage of a Civil War-era shipwreck. Fox News, "Discovery of Civil War map sheds new light on Antietam’s bloody aftermath," 20 June 2020 The shipwreck was found in 2017 about two nautical miles off Sisal, Yucatan, according to Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH). James Rogers, Fox News, "19th-century Maya slave ship wreck discovered off Mexico," 20 Sep. 2020 A year after a giant cargo ship carrying 4,200 automobiles overturned on the Georgia coast, public testimony from crew members and technical experts could soon provide answers to what caused the shipwreck. Russ Bynum, Star Tribune, "Why did ship overturn off Georgia? Hearings may give answers," 11 Sep. 2020 The shipwreck of the Phoenix is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is part of the Vermont Underwater Historic Preserves. Allen Kim, CNN, "201-year-old steamship paddle wheels found in Lake Champlain belonging to one of the oldest wrecks of its kind in the US," 9 Sep. 2020 This requires developing extrinsic survival behaviors — how to act in a kidnapping or a shipwreck is completely antithetical to the previously routine simple tasks of how to enter a building or shake hands with a friend. Neil Senturia, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Stockdale Paradox: Having faith but confronting reality," 8 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb After a storm shipwrecked them, they were miraculously saved by a boat heading to the Bahamas — exactly the place where Sarah’s super evil dad Ward (Charles Esten) sent John B.’s gold. Kaitlin Reilly,, "Good News: We Just Got Even More Outer Banks," 8 May 2020 The valley—after the water returns to the steep-sided channel—is hard to cross, all sucking mud and shipwrecked trees in a prairie that is accustomed to being dry and treeless. Andrew Mckean, Outdoor Life, "Willow Creek: An Obscure Stream Shapes Life, Death, and Landscape," 16 Apr. 2020 The gorgeous 2018 card game Shipwreck Arcana is a great example of a cooperative survival game: To win, at least one person must survive being shipwrecked. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "Robots Need to Know They Can Die at Any Minute, Just Like the Rest of Us," 18 Nov. 2019 Eliason and Smith have been part of a number of Lake Superior shipwreck discoveries in recent years, including the 2013 find of the freighter Henry B. Smith that had vanished with all hands a century before. Andrew Krueger,, "Shipwreck of the Hudson found 118 years after it sank in a Lake Superior gale," 26 Sep. 2019 The title refers to Prospero’s ability to control the climate, causing the storm that shipwrecks his enemies on the island and allows him to turn the tables on them. Terry Byrne,, "At Fort Point, they’re taking ‘The Tempest’ by storm," 21 Aug. 2019 In the play, Viola and her twin brother, Sebastian, are shipwrecked and separated. Jesse Wright,, "Lyons Township tackles romantic Shakespearean comedy ‘Twelfth Night’," 16 Oct. 2019 Canada’s armed forces have recovered and detonated dozens of unexploded munitions from World War II shipwrecks off the coast of Newfoundland. Fox News, "Canadian military recovers, detonates, unexploded munitions from WW II shipwrecks," 5 Aug. 2019 Both involve figures of the commedia dell’arte: Pierrot and Scapin are the protagonists of the Gluck, shipwrecked and looking for girls; in the Ullmann, Harlekin is a pragmatic Everyman. Washington Post, "At Wolf Trap Opera, Gluck and Ullman make for strange bedfellows," 27 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'shipwreck.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of shipwreck


12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1589, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for shipwreck


alteration of earlier shipwrack, from Middle English schipwrak, from Old English scipwræc, from scip ship + wræc something driven by the sea — more at wrack

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Time Traveler for shipwreck

Time Traveler

The first known use of shipwreck was in the 12th century

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Statistics for shipwreck

Last Updated

17 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Shipwreck.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for shipwreck


How to pronounce shipwreck (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of shipwreck

: the destruction or sinking of a ship at sea
: a ruined or destroyed ship


ship·​wreck | \ ˈship-ˌrek How to pronounce shipwreck (audio) \

Kids Definition of shipwreck

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a ruined or destroyed ship Divers explored the shipwreck.
2 : the loss or destruction of a ship Only a few sailors survived the shipwreck.


shipwrecked; shipwrecking

Kids Definition of shipwreck (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to cause to experience destruction of a ship and usually be left stranded The crew was shipwrecked.
2 : to ruin or destroy (a ship) by crashing ashore or sinking

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Comments on shipwreck

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