\ 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

New York City has a history of both minor and major helicopter wrecks and crash landings. Jim Mustian, BostonGlobe.com, "One person killed in helicopter crash landing in Manhattan," 10 June 2019 Over the years, a number of Pacific war wrecks have been looted or disappeared completely, the victim of black market scrappers. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Explorers Discover the Wreck of the Aircraft Carrier USS Hornet, Sunk in World War II," 12 Feb. 2019 And a three-vehicle wreck near Cypress Creek Road at about 7:41 had closed two lanes. Tonya Alanez, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Southbound I-95 at a standstill from Hillsboro Boulevard to Cypress Creek Road," 7 June 2018 The organization invited Brody, other officers and state troopers, transportation officials and parents who lost teens in wrecks to a press conference Wednesday about teen driver safety at its West Hartford offices. Christine Dempsey, courant.com, "How To Keep Your Teen Driver Safe During The '100 Deadliest Days'," 31 May 2018 Busch came in 10th while Dillon got swept up in the nasty wreck and didn’t finish. Michelle R. Martinelli, For The Win, "NASCAR drivers had one thought during race: 'Get the (expletive) out of the way!'," 16 May 2018 In the summer of 2016, Earnhardt was in a small wreck while racing and suffered a concussion. Michelle R. Martinelli, USA TODAY, "Dale Jr.'s concussion book is already a bestseller," 27 Apr. 2018 More than one person died in a vehicle wreck involving pedestrians Tuesday morning in Fountain Hills, according to a Maricopa County Sheriff's Office spokesman. Sgt. Robert Gundran, azcentral, "Fatalities confirmed after car hits pedestrians in Fountain Hills," 13 Mar. 2018 The wreck occurred on lap 54 after contact between Brad Keselowski and Stenhouse near the front of the pack. Mike Hembree, USA TODAY, "Erik Jones scores first career NASCAR Cup win in wreck fest at Daytona," 7 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Cutting off Hong Kong would not only harm American interests in the territory but also wreck the prospects of Hong Kongers—an odd way to reward its would-be democrats. The Economist, "The rule of law in Hong Kong," 13 June 2019 In 2015, six of 14 people packed into an SUV were killed when their vehicle wrecked as police gave chase about 90 miles southwest of Houston. CBS News, "6 El Savador migrants killed, others critically injured in SUV accident in Texas," 5 June 2019 The disconnect is jarring between this scene and what is transpiring at the same moment, all over America: thousands of people desperately searching for more OxyContin, their families wrecked, their money gone, their lives ruined. Norman Vanamee, Town & Country, "How Sackler Became the Most Toxic Name in Philanthropy," 16 May 2019 Josephine Rizo survived chemotherapy, surgery and radiation, but breast cancer treatment wrecked her finances. Washington Post, "Many cancer patients juggle care along with financial pain," 22 May 2018 Basketball isn’t football, where injuries wreck seasons and depth is more important than growth. Paul Daugherty, Cincinnati.com, "Doc: UC will be playing against UC the next 5 weeks," 8 Jan. 2018 For instance, a Yemeni man resettled in Serbia in 2016 has struggled to learn the local language while complaining that a Guantánamo stigma was wrecking his job and social-life prospects. New York Times, "Deported to Libya, Ex-Gitmo Detainees Vanish. Will Others Meet a Similar Fate?," 23 Apr. 2018 The out-there personalities drawn to the partying extremes of the skating lifestyle needed an outlet that wouldn't wreck their livers, and running provided it. Noah Davis, GQ, "The Future of Running Gear Looks a Lot like Streetwear," 31 Jan. 2018 Moments after Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper's intimate performance of 'Shallow' wrecked our entire lives at the 2019 Oscars, Gaga picked up the award for Best Original Song. Emma Dibdin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Lady Gaga's Emotional Oscar Acceptance Speech to Bradley Cooper Is Everything," 25 Feb. 2019

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

16 Jun 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).


standardized text or formulaic language

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Finance Words Quiz

  • a-piggy-bank
  • The etymology of mortgage is related most closely to which two words?
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!