\ 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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Attorneys earlier argued unsuccessfully that Bible was left disabled and in permanent pain after a prison van taking him to death row in 2003 crashed, killing a corrections officer and the driver of another vehicle involved in the wreck. NBC News, "Attorneys for Texas ice pick killer propose execution by firing squad or gas," 27 June 2018 Attorneys earlier argued unsuccessfully that Bible was left disabled and in permanent pain after a prison van taking him to death row in 2003 crashed, killing a corrections officer and the driver of another vehicle involved in the wreck. Michael Graczyk, The Seattle Times, "Texas inmate wants to be executed by firing squad or gas," 26 June 2018 Arrington, who ousted incumbent Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., in the June 12 primary, was seriously injured on Friday in a car wreck that left one person dead. Brooke Singman, Fox News, "GOP candidate Katie Arrington to continue campaign after car wreck, doctors optimistic," 25 June 2018 The front end of the red dump truck was mangled in the wreck, which took place about 50 miles west of New York. David Porter, BostonGlobe.com, "N.J. school bus collides with truck, killing teacher and student," 17 May 2018 The driver’s 60-year-old mother, meanwhile, was seriously injured in the wreck — and died several days later at an Orlando hospital. Jared Gilmour, miamiherald, "Florida woman smiled in her mugshot. Her DUI crash killed a 60-year-old, cops say. | Miami Herald," 16 May 2018 Fellow drivers Ryan Newman and Ty Dillon were also involved in the wreck. Michelle R. Martinelli, For The Win, "NASCAR driver Jamie McMurray is miraculously fine after violent crash at practice," 27 Apr. 2018 Four days after a line of strong storms swept across the state, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency has identified a Semmes woman killed in a Bayway wreck in which heavy rain may have been a factor. Lawrence Specker, AL.com, "ALEA: Storms possibly a factor in fatal Bayway wreck," 18 Apr. 2018 According to Bloomberg, Tesla made public statements that blamed the driver, Walter Huang, who died in the wreck. Andrew Moseman, Popular Mechanics, "Tesla Got Booted Off a Fatal Crash Investigation by the NTSB," 13 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 In 2011 an earthquake caused a tsunami that wrecked the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Allen Pierleoni, latimes.com, "William T. Vollmann turns his mammoth talents to climate change," 11 May 2018 In 2010, in the wake of the global financial crisis that wrecked the local housing market, officials counted 16,800 vacant buildings in Baltimore. Ian Duncan, baltimoresun.com, "In 2010, Baltimore had 16,800 vacants. Eight years and millions of dollars later, the number is down to 16,500," 26 Apr. 2018 It has been closed since 2005, when Hurricane Katrina made landfall and brought powerful winds that wrecked light poles, fencing, bus shelters, signs and a guard shack. Beau Evans, NOLA.com, "Algiers Park & Ride set for a facelift; money in question," 3 Apr. 2018 Mark Conditt is another white conservative terrorist that has wrecked havoc on poor, defenseless American citizens. Michael Arceneaux, Essence.com, "'He Was Kind And Quiet:' On Racism, Humanity And How White Terrorists Are Often Treated Better Than Their Victims," 23 Mar. 2018 Another aspect of a performer is auditioning, which Hughes said is the most nerve wrecking part of the business. Karen Pilarski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "From Brookfield to Broadway, Hughes' performing career is far from 'Frozen'," 20 Mar. 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.

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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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Learn More about wreck

Dictionary Entries near wreck


wreath shell






Phrases Related to wreck

nervous wreck

Statistics for wreck

Last Updated

22 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for wreck

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

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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.

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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).


occurring twice a year or every two years

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