\ˈrek \

Definition of wreck 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : something cast up on the land by the sea especially after a shipwreck

2a : shipwreck

b : the action of wrecking or fact or state of being wrecked : destruction

c : a violent and destructive crash was injured in a car wreck

3a : a hulk or the ruins of a wrecked ship

b : the broken remains of something wrecked or otherwise ruined

c : something disabled or in a state of ruin or dilapidation the house was a wreck also : a person or animal of broken constitution, health, or spirits he's a nervous wreck


wrecked; wrecking; wrecks

Definition of wreck (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to cast ashore

2a : to reduce to a ruinous state by or as if by violence a country wrecked by war ambition wrecked his marriage

b : shipwreck

c : to ruin, damage, or imperil by a wreck wrecked the car

3 : bring about, wreak wreck havoc

intransitive verb

1 : to become wrecked

2 : to rob, salvage, or repair wreckage or a wreck

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of wreck in a Sentence


This car has never been in a wreck. The stress of her final exams made her a wreck. Dad was a nervous wreck on the day I had my surgery.


I wrecked my mother's car. Many houses were wrecked by the hurricane. The affair wrecked his marriage. Bad weather wrecked our vacation.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The wreck happened around 1:30 a.m. on McKay at Walker Lee, when the couple missed a sharp curve and drove into a ditch, according to Metro Video. Samantha Ketterer, Houston Chronicle, "Two injured in possible drunken-driving crash in Humble," 12 July 2018 The wreck happened on Ga. 83 in Monroe County when a 2008 Chevrolet Avalanche collided with a 2006 Nissan Altima between Jeffrey Way and Abernathy Road, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Zachary Hansen, ajc, "2 dead, 10-month-old seriously injured in Middle Georgia head-on crash," 12 July 2018 The wreck happened shortly after 1 p.m. at the intersection of Little Blue Parkway and RD Mize Road in Independence, when a southbound GMC Sierra hit a northbound Ford Escape. Tess Vrbin, kansascity, "Police identify man killed in Independence crash," 3 July 2018 The wreck happened 10 days after Arrington won the Republican nomination for the U.S. House over Rep. Mark Sanford in the 1st Congressional District which stretches from Charleston to Hilton Head Island. Jeffrey Collins, The Seattle Times, "Arrington won’t drop out of US House race after crash," 25 June 2018 The deadly wreck happened shortly before 6:15 p.m. Tuesday on I-95 near Commercial Boulevard in Oakland Park. Doug Phillips, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Tire flies off box truck and kills I-95 driver, highway patrol says," 6 June 2018 Images from the wreck of the Kyle Spangler, for example, show the difference just five years can make. CBS News, "Divers race to find Great Lakes shipwrecks threatened by invasive species," 10 July 2018 Injured was Alexander Berry, 18, of Fort Lauderdale, who was thrown from the burning wreck. Victoria Ballard, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Tesla's new speed control feature dedicated to Fort Lauderdale teen," 1 July 2018 The driver of the Saab, Andrew K. Stark, then 22 years old, walked away from the wreck but was arrested and prosecuted. Ian Cummings, kansascity, "Years before deadly police chase, Independence paid $767K for nearly identical wreck," 12 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Jackson had also been accused of mishandling prescription pain medication and wrecking a Secret Service vehicle after a party. Emma Stefansky, The Hive, "Trump Escalates Defense of Withdrawn Nominee, Calls for Senator to Resign," 28 Apr. 2018 At the same time, this is frosting on a political record that has left Idaho’s educational system wrecked and our teachers underpaid. Cynthia Sewell, idahostatesman, "Idaho lawmaker says he met with GOP resistance when he tried to honor Andrus | Idaho Statesman," 23 Mar. 2018 Brady helps him with his rehabilitation labors, which even include exercises that mimic the very rodeo riding that wrecked his body. Walter Addiego, Houston Chronicle, "Film review: ‘Rider’ an elegiac portrait of a cowboy," 26 Apr. 2018 Shaken by a first season that wrecked her confidence, the 6-foot-5 center from Germany nearly talked herself into leaving the team four years ago. Andrew Greif, OregonLive.com, "Oregon State season as a glance: Behind Gulich, Beavers defied expectations," 27 Mar. 2018 Unlike other board appointments required to go before City Council for approval, wrecking board members are appointed by Mayor Mike Duggan to serve three-year terms, with no other approval needed. Katrease Stafford, Detroit Free Press, "Concerns raised about contractors sitting on Detroit wrecking board," 9 July 2018 British advocates of Brexit have long harbored ambitions not just to fragment the European Union but to wreck it. Matthew Rosenberg, New York Times, "In Brexit, Trump Finds a British Reflection of His Own Political Rise," 13 July 2018 The contradiction between a man anxious to wreck shop in the Western world and the shrinking violet that was about to meet Putin was striking. Aaron Blake, Washington Post, "Trump’s huge self-contradiction on Russia at NATO," 12 July 2018 McMillan is allowing Baker to use his car on weekends after Baker’s father wrecked Baker’s in February. Barry Jackson, miamiherald, "These young Dolphins offensive players are showing encouraging signs," 12 June 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of wreck


12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for wreck


Middle English wrec, wrek, borrowed from Anglo-French wrek & Medieval Latin wreccum, borrowed from Old Norse *wrek, rek, going back to *wrek-a- "something driven," derivative of Germanic *wrekan- "to drive out" — more at wreak


Middle English wrekkyd (past participle), probably derivative of wrek wreck entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about wreck

Dictionary Entries near wreck


wreath shell






Statistics for wreck

Last Updated

3 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for wreck

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for wreck



English Language Learners Definition of wreck

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a vehicle, airplane, etc., that has been badly damaged or destroyed

: a ruined or destroyed ship

: an accident in which a car, airplane, train, etc., is badly damaged or destroyed



English Language Learners Definition of wreck (Entry 2 of 2)

: to damage (something) so badly that it cannot be repaired

: to ruin or destroy (something)

: to destroy (a ship) by crashing it into something


\ˈrek \

Kids Definition of wreck

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the remains (as of a ship or vehicle) after heavy damage usually by storm, collision, or fire

2 : a person who is very tired, ill, worried, or unhappy I'm a nervous wreck.

3 : the action of damaging or destroying something A lower speed limit will reduce wrecks.

4 : something in a state of ruin The house is a wreck.


wrecked; wrecking

Kids Definition of wreck (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to damage or destroy by or as if by force or violence I wrecked my car.

2 : to bring to ruin or an end Our picnic was wrecked by the rain.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on wreck

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


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!