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

The anchor is at the southernmost end of the shipwreck in the sand. John Christopher Fine,, "SS Copenhagen shipwreck home to picture-perfect artificial reef," 18 July 2019 But that oral history is backed by physical evidence found in the shipwrecks, Kenny said. Author: Lauren Ellenbecker, Anchorage Daily News, "Anchorage Museum explores fate of doomed Franklin expedition in new exhibit," 13 June 2019 For several days, the police searched up and down the coast, looking for signs of a shipwreck, but had found none. Matthew Wolfe, Harper's magazine, "Without a Trace," 10 Feb. 2019 This Great Lakes shipwreck is well-known after disappearing into a stormy Lake Superior Nov. 10, 1975, when wind gusts peaked at nearly 100 mph and waves reached the height of three-story buildings. Chris Barlow, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wauwatosa-Elm Grove-Brookfield: The drummer from the Violent Femmes performs with a cellist," 9 Jan. 2018 The National Marine Sanctuary System, encompassing 13 sanctuaries and two marine national monuments, protects 430 shipwrecks and sunken aircraft. Nina Strochlic, National Geographic, "'Ghost fleet' of sunken warships declared a national marine sanctuary," 8 July 2019 In a statement, Cyprus’ Department of Antiquities explained that the wreck is the first undisturbed Roman shipwreck found in the Mediterranean island nation’s waters. Fox News, "'Undisturbed' Roman-era shipwreck discovered off Cyprus," 28 June 2019 The idea here was to do something like locate a shipwreck or a natural methane seep. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "XPRIZE selects winners of autonomous seafloor-mapping competition," 1 June 2019 Among the stops are Nipe Bay, home of the lush pine forests of the Sierra del Cristal range and Guayabo waterfalls, and Isla de la Juventud, a former pirate hideout with coral reefs, shipwrecks, and the otherworldly Punta del Este Caves. Klara Glowczewska, Town & Country, "The Best Places to Travel in 2019," 7 Dec. 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

9 Aug 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).


of or relating to the heavens

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