\ 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
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
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

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Examples of wreck in a Sentence

Noun 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. Verb I wrecked my mother's car. Many houses were wrecked by the hurricane. The affair wrecked his marriage. Bad weather wrecked our vacation.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Five family members traveling together in an SUV were taken to the hospital, including two teenagers who were seriously injured, after a wreck in Cobb County on Saturday afternoon, police said. Henri Hollis, ajc, "Weekend crash in Cobb sends 5 family members to hospital," 4 Jan. 2021 Officers were called to the 3400 block of South Archer Avenue in the McKinley Park neighborhood shortly before 1 a.m. Wednesday for a call of a wreck and after a citizen who was driving by saw a man’s body lying in the street, police said. Rosemary Sobol, chicagotribune.com, "Man found shot dead in McKinley Park neighborhood," 31 Dec. 2020 After a bus wreck or a mass-casualty event, emergency mode could last a full day. Lawrence Wright, The New Yorker, "The Plague Year," 28 Dec. 2020 All lanes of Interstate 12 East have reopened in St. Tammany Parish at Highway 190 after a wreck, authorities said Monday morning. Carlie Wells, NOLA.com, "I-12 East reopens at Highway 190 on North Shore after wreck," 14 Dec. 2020 One man is in critical condition after a wreck involving an off-duty Louisville police officer Wednesday night. David Harten, The Courier-Journal, "Man in critical condition after Wednesday night wreck involving off-duty LMPD officer," 12 Nov. 2020 Pittman is the Razorbacks' fifth head coach since the high-flying days of Petrino ended after his motorcycle wreck. Tom Murphy, Arkansas Online, "At a loss for W's: Mississippi State used to be UA’s whipping team," 3 Oct. 2020 But one of those cautions Sunday came after a wreck that knocked out two of Team Penske's stars. Noah Trister, Star Tribune, "Harvick holds off Hamlin for Michigan doubleheader sweep," 9 Aug. 2020 An off-duty Chambers County, Ala., sheriff’s deputy was charged with DUI and reckless endangerment after a wreck early Saturday morning, according to media reports. Lee Roop | Lroop@al.com, al, "Off-duty Chambers County deputy charged with DUI," 27 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that the dispute over what happens if British rules diverge from the EU could wreck a deal. Joe Mayes, Fortune, "Boris Johnson faces final Sunday deadline for Brexit deal with the EU," 10 Dec. 2020 Having blighted the Earth’s environment, commercial activity seems poised to wreck the next frontier: low-Earth orbit. Clive Thompson, The New Republic, "Monetizing the Final Frontier," 3 Dec. 2020 Both incidents could wreck prospects for diplomacy. Stephen Collinson, CNN, "Biden's hopes of reviving Iran nuclear deal may already be coming undone," 1 Dec. 2020 Democrats were also cast as supporting green energy plans that would wreck the Texas economy. Dallas News, "After 2018 warning shot, Texas GOP outworked Texas Democrats to keep state red," 5 Nov. 2020 Besides, his contract would wreck the Heat for at least two more years. Ira Winderman, sun-sentinel.com, "ASK IRA: Will Heat soon have another big man stepping outside?," 9 Dec. 2020 That matchup alone can wreck the game for the Titans. cleveland, "Can Baker Mayfield become a top 10 quarterback in this offense like Ryan Tannehill has? Hey, Mary Kay!," 6 Dec. 2020 For months Johnson resisted calls for a second national lockdown, fearing that shuttering shops and restaurants would wreck the economy. Alex Morales, Bloomberg.com, "Boris Johnson Plans Overhaul of England’s Covid Rules After Lockdown," 20 Nov. 2020 The Dolphins purposely built the offensive line big for this reason, so they wouldn’t be bullied by the power elite of the league, players such as Donald, who can wreck games by collapsing the pocket. Omar Kelly, sun-sentinel.com, "Kelly: Dolphins O-line has a tough task to protect Tua from Aaron Donald | Commentary," 30 Oct. 2020

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for wreck

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for wreck

Last Updated

15 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Wreck.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wreck. Accessed 25 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for wreck


How to pronounce wreck (audio)

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.

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Comments on wreck

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