ship·wreck | \ˈship-ˌrek \

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

shipwrecking, wreck, wreckage, wrecking

Synonyms: Verb

strand, wreck

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Examples of shipwreck in a Sentence


Only a few sailors survived the shipwreck. The crew narrowly avoided shipwreck. Divers searched the sunken shipwreck.


the yachtsman fell asleep at the wheel and shipwrecked his ketch on the rocks
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Abdelrazak is said to be linked to at least two fatal shipwrecks in the Mediterranean. Nima Elbagir And Lauren Said-moorhouse, CNN, "Unprecedented UN sanctions slapped on 'millionaire migrant traffickers'," 7 June 2018 Scientists have speculated the site could be anything ranging from a shipwreck to a geological formation. Joel Langstein, Fox News, "'Sonar Anomaly' discovered off North Carolina coast, fascinating scientists," 28 June 2018 The human remains recovered from a centuries-old shipwreck off Cape Cod did not come from an infamous pirate captain after all. Emily Sweeney,, "Human remains recovered in old shipwreck off Cape Cod do not belong to legendary pirate captain," 24 May 2018 Scientists at the University of Adelaide in Australia recover liquid samples from an old bottle taken from a shipwreck. Mike Cherney, WSJ, "The Newest Thing in Beer: Ancient Yeast," 20 May 2018 Florida Today reports the Schmitt family found $1 million in gold coins and chains from a 300-year-old Spanish shipwreck. Megan Friedman, Country Living, "Treasure Hunters Found $1 Million in Coins and Chains on an 18th Century Shipwreck," 28 July 2015 Mike Milosh stared into the monitor showing video from a shipwreck two miles below him. Karla Zabludovsky, Newsweek, "Sunken Ship Laden With Gold Lures Treasure Hunters – Again," 19 Mar. 2014 In addition to the coral garden discovered during the expedition, Okeanos explored regions with deep-sea fish, mud volcanoes, and shipwrecks in the waters sandwiched by Texas and west Florida. Sarah Gibbens, National Geographic, "This 'Secret Garden' of Coral May Be 1,000 Years Old," 15 May 2018 It’s filled up with maritime stuff, including parts of the USS Milwaukee shipwreck, and tons of old photographs. Robert Earle Howells,, "Insider: A sea captain’s guide to Eureka," 5 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In recent weeks, Italy and Malta have denied access to their ports to three ships that had rescued hundreds of migrants shipwrecked off the Libyan coast. Valentina Pop, WSJ, "Immigration Debate Takes on New Urgency as EU Leaders Meet," 27 June 2018 The retired radiologist and former Navy captain was shipwrecked in the Bahamas; crash-landed a small plane on a Maine pond after the engine cut out; and was stuck on a mountain in Greece after injuring his leg on a scenic bike ride. Steve Annear,, "A 95-year-old Maine resident beat a rabid fox to death with a wooden plank," 28 June 2018 In the beginning of the play, Miranda is charmed by the human beings shipwrecked on her island. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "Puzzled by Westworld? Look to Shakespeare.," 26 June 2018 Jamie and Claire saved him—only to then shipwreck in Colonial Georgia, which is where season four will pick up. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Good News: There’s a Lot More Outlander in Your Future," 9 May 2018 The ordinariness of his tale and its unexceptional heroes—Ananda and his uncle Radhesh, an avatar for Odysseus—implies that, in the end, everyone is wandering and shipwrecked. The Economist, "In times of crisis, writers turn to Homer," 26 Apr. 2018 What if they were shipwrecked on an island and popped out Baby Tarzan? Mehera Bonner, Marie Claire, "The Craziest Movie Fan Theories on the Internet," 1 May 2017 Lagooned! is a musical comedy about a group of castaways that are shipwrecked in the middle of the South Pacific. Independencelocalschools,, "Independence Middle School Drama Club Presents "Lagooned!": Community Voices," 23 Jan. 2018 It was shipwrecked in North Carolina, where it is believed that the ship's crew engaged in fierce battle in 1718 with volunteers from the British Royal Navy who killed Blackbeard. Yelena Dzhanova, NBC News, "Blackbeard may have been an avid reader, discovery suggests," 15 Jan. 2018

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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Learn More about shipwreck

Dictionary Entries near shipwreck






ship writ


Statistics for shipwreck

Last Updated

18 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for shipwreck

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

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More Definitions for shipwreck



English Language Learners Definition of shipwreck

: the destruction or sinking of a ship at sea

: a ruined or destroyed ship


ship·wreck | \ˈship-ˌrek \

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

What made you want to look up shipwreck? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


one that holds something together

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