\ 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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Synonyms for wreck

Synonyms: Noun

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

Synonyms: Verb

shipwreck, strand

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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

In a September drill, first responders simulated a wreck involving eight cars, three buses and 24 injured people. Mike Lindblom, The Seattle Times, "What will the Highway 99 tunnel opening mean for bus routes, detours and tsunamis? We answer those questions and more," 12 Dec. 2018 All of the cars involved in the wreck were heading toward Brooklyn. Zolan Kanno-youngs, WSJ, "Deadly Car Crash Shuts Down Brooklyn Bridge," 21 Nov. 2018 The State Police and the Morris County prosecutor’s office are investigating the crash, which a State Police official said was standard in a wreck of such severity. Patrick Mcgeehan, New York Times, "New Jersey School Bus Collides With Truck, Killing Student and Teacher," 17 May 2018 The teens weren’t injured in the wreck, Iozzi said. Stephen Hudak, OrlandoSentinel.com, "'I was so scared,' Leesburg carjacking victim says after Orlando teens take her SUV," 9 Apr. 2018 Officers worked a seven-vehicle pileup on Interstate 35W at Allen Avenue shortly before 1 p.m. Just after after 1 p.m., a person was killed in a wreck at Loop 820 and Meadowbrook Drive, authorities said. Stephen English, star-telegram, "Accidents abound as rain soaks Fort Worth - 1 fatal and a seven-car pileup | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 27 Mar. 2018 One of those wrecks involved five tractor-trailers and three cars last Monday. Mike Lindblom, The Seattle Times, "Slippery I-90 lane closed for emergency fix in Cle Elum," 9 Oct. 2018 Diving into a mystery In 1993, archaeologists and divers consulted eighteenth-century maps and logs for information about the locations of the wrecks, then took to the water with side-scan sonar to find them. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Captain Cook’s HMS Endeavour found off the coast of Rhode Island," 24 Sep. 2018 Black managed to dodge most of the wrecks, and finished 16th, just one lap down. Edgar Thompson, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Patriotism gets big boost at Daytona," 8 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The first four ads of the campaign are all based on true stories illustrating the extreme lengths young adults have gone to get a hold of Oxycodone and Vicodin -- from smashing their hand or arm, to wrecking their car or breaking their back. Maegan Vazquez, CNN, "White House launches multimillion dollar ad campaign to combat opioid addiction," 7 June 2018 Federal officials said violent gales higher than 62 mph hit areas in the north, south and east of the country, wrecking homes and uprooting trees, Agence France-Presse reports. Casey Quackenbush, Time, "Sand and Thunderstorms Sweep Across India, Leaving More Than 86 Dead," 15 May 2018 Cheap and abundant capital can even wreck mature companies by encouraging willy-nilly expansion. Amar Bhidé, WSJ, "Stock-Market Volatility Can Be Good for the Economy," 24 Dec. 2018 Oil has been leaking from the site since waves whipped up by Hurricane Ivan triggered an underwater mudslide that wrecked Taylor Energy’s platform. Michael Kunzelman, The Seattle Times, "Company can be ordered to drill to end 14-year-old oil leak," 21 Nov. 2018 Products for fantastical looks that won't wreck your skin. Ramona Emerson, Allure, "How to Remove Your Halloween Makeup and Face Paint Without Wrecking Your Skin," 15 Oct. 2018 Court records show that since 2014, Richards had been charged with abusing a former girlfriend, stealing a pickup truck after wrecking his own vehicle, using a baseball bat to smash a car window and burglarizing a gas station. Fox News, "Slain golfer, suspect lived contrasting lives in Iowa city," 19 Sep. 2018 The feelings can hijack your well-being, wrecking your sleep and concentration and leaving you with hard-to-shake nerves. Sarah Richards, Woman's Day, "Quiet Your Mind in Anxious Times With These Expert Tricks," 14 Aug. 2018 There’s also Ah-Jack, a lifer in the Chinese restaurant industry, whose body has been wrecked by physical labor combined with encroaching diabetes. Emily Gray Tedrowe, USA TODAY, "Family drama is on the menu in spicy "Number One Chinese Restaurant"," 18 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.

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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






Statistics for wreck

Last Updated

13 Jan 2019

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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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).


marked by shyness and lack of polish

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