\ ˈrek How to pronounce wreck (audio) \

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

Synonyms for wreck

Synonyms: Noun

ashes, debris, detritus, flotsam, remains, residue, rubble, ruins, wreckage

Synonyms: Verb

shipwreck, strand

Visit the Thesaurus 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

One person was killed and two others were injured Sunday in a two-vehicle wreck in Independence, according to police. Ian Cummings, kansascity, "One person killed in wreck at Little Blue Parkway and RD Mize Road in Independence," 1 July 2018 Linton says dislocated ankles are seen in car wrecks more than in football games, and the injury is not prone to repeat like a dislocated shoulder, which can pop out of place continuously. Ross Dellenger, SI.com, "Nick Fitzgerald Rehabs and Readies to Embrace an Offense That Could Make Him Better Than Ever," 27 June 2018 To the heartbreak of her fans, she was collected by a multi-car wreck and didn’t finish. Michelle Martinelli, USA TODAY, "Danica Patrick bids farewell to racing with Indianapolis 500, departs with no regrets," 24 May 2018 But Davis was intimately acquainted with 28-year-old Rosie Forsyth, the driver responsible for the single-car wreck. Jared Gilmour, miamiherald, "Car crash left a grandma dead — and revealed a Philadelphia cop’s ‘outrageous’ crimes | Miami Herald," 9 Apr. 2018 In the summer of 1999, he was involved in a car wreck that left one dead, Recker's then-girlfriend paralyzed and Recker in surgery for severe head and neck lacerations. Matthew Glenesk, Indianapolis Star, "Bailey, Kemp, Big Dog: Indiana's McDonald's All Americans over the years," 27 Mar. 2018 Alexis Emmou, right, was killed in a car wreck in May 2015. Stefan Stevenson, star-telegram, "Horrific night changed Alex Robinson and helped lead him back to TCU | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 2 Mar. 2018 This wreck was less than two miles from the site of the 2014 crash, on the same road. Ian Cummings, kansascity, "Years before deadly police chase, Independence paid $767K for nearly identical wreck," 12 June 2018 The wreck was on Ga. 82 and Jones Road, according to Barrow County Emergency Services. Steve Burns, ajc, "JUST IN: Delays expected for hours after deadly Barrow County crash," 2 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Fourteen Ford Anglias were wrecked in the filming of the scene where Harry and Ron crashed into the Whomping Willow. Noelle Devoe, Seventeen, "33 Mind-Blowing "Harry Potter" Movie Facts That'll Make You Want to Watch Them All Over Again," 31 Jan. 2019 The house in Carolina, Puerto Rico where Maria Teresa Cancél Rodriguez lived with her husband and two sons was wrecked when Hurricane Maria ravaged the island more than seven months ago. NBC News, "2,300 Puerto Rican families displaced by Hurricane Maria are about to lose their FEMA housing assistance," 6 June 2018 His 2017 Lamborghini had been discovered wrecked shortly before Williams was contacted. Clarence E. Hill Jr., star-telegram, "Cowboys add Darius Jackson to RB mix behind Ezekiel Elliott, among other roster moves," 30 May 2018 One had overheated, two had been wrecked in accidents, and two others had broken headlights. Rachel Aviv, The New Yorker, "The Spy Who Came Home," 30 Apr. 2018 The Western Union building was wrecked and with it the office of the Associated Press. sandiegouniontribune.com, "April 18, 1906: Quake Destroys San Francisco," 18 Apr. 2018 The Earth of 2045 is crippled by climate change; energy crises and unemployment have wrecked the economy. Andrew Moseman, Popular Mechanics, "Push the Red Button, Parzival," 30 Mar. 2018 Spending the resources to build extravagant buildings and lush gardens feels pointless when any random player can come by and wreck your stuff. Sarah Leboeuf, Ars Technica, "Two weeks in, Fallout 76 is a lonely, glitchy, flawed mess," 28 Nov. 2018 Mr Mugabe wrecked the country’s largest export industry by grabbing land from white farmers and handing it to cronies who often knew little about farming. The Economist, "Zimbabwe’s new president may not be able to fix the economy," 19 May 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

24 Mar 2019

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
US : 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 How to pronounce wreck (audio) \

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

More from Merriam-Webster on wreck

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with wreck

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for wreck

Spanish Central: Translation of wreck

Nglish: Translation of wreck for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wreck for Arabic Speakers

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 boil down or concentrate

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt-painting-a-young-scholar-and-his-tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


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!