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

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

Could be shipwreck, rock formation — 'or otherwise' All the wood, including the hull, has vanished, NOAA experts determined. Mark Price, charlotteobserver, "Deep sea explorers find mysterious creatures and one 'horror' off Carolinas coast," 9 July 2018 At the end of season three, Claire and Jamie arrive (via shipwreck, no less!) on the coast of Georgia in 1767. Alexandra Macon, Vogue, "We Need to Talk About Outlander Season 4," 25 Jan. 2019 The property features 10 mock-shipwrecks, each appointed with chic, contemporary finishings. Carrie Goldberg, Harper's BAZAAR, "The 19 Best Places to Travel in 2019," 10 Jan. 2019 The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum attracts more than 75,000 visitors a year, according to its website, and is full of artifacts and history regarding Great Lakes shipwrecks, including the bell of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald. Brian Manzullo, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan's summer gems: 22 activities you must try," 27 June 2018 But during the hunt for MH370, researchers discovered the remains of two shipwrecks that went missing in the 19th century, as the Associated Press reports. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Two 19th-Century Shipwrecks Discovered During Search for Flight MH370," 10 May 2018 The search for Malaysia Airlines flight 370, which has been missing for more than four years, has led to the discovery of two 19th-century shipwrecks in the Indian Ocean. James Rogers, Fox News, "MH370 search discovers shipwrecks, offers clues to 19th-century maritime mysteries," 4 May 2018 But these finds barely scratch the surface of what lies below—studies estimate that less than 1 percent of shipwrecks have even been explored. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "This Old Shipwreck Transformed Into a Gorgeous Reef," 27 Dec. 2018 Power Moves: Consider the image of a shipwreck this week, Aries. Bess Matassa, Teen Vogue, "Weekly Horoscopes August 27-September 2," 20 Aug. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

And watching with delight, cozied up in one of the old theater seats that dot the Globe’s outdoor Davies stage, is Kate Burton as Prospera, the sorcerer who has whipped up this tempest to shipwreck and bring rough justice to some old foes. James Hebert,, "'Tempest' a satisfying whirl of wit and wizardry at Old Globe," 24 June 2018 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

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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Dictionary Entries near shipwreck






ship writ


Statistics for shipwreck

Last Updated

22 Feb 2019

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 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

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


a flaw that causes the downfall of a hero

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