\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

The death toll jumped Friday after the navy sent divers to the wreck on Friday. Vincent Thian, chicagotribune.com, "Search resumes for 23 missing tourists, mostly from China, after boat sinks in Thailand; 33 dead," 7 July 2018 Facing the best team in baseball, the Royals' train-wreck of a 2018 season somehow fell further off the tracks. Maria Torres, kansascity, "Royals bullpen clobbered so thoroughly by Red Sox, Drew Butera pitches in loss," 7 July 2018 Divers who entered the wreck of the tour boat Friday described heart-breaking scenes of bodies of children found in the arms of their mothers. Fox News, "The Latest: Death toll climbs to 38 in Thailand boat sinking," 7 July 2018 Barrett Riley, of Fort Lauderdale, and front-seat passenger Edgar Monserratt Martinez, of Aventura, both 18 and seniors at the Pine Crest School, were trapped in the burning wreck of a gray 2014 Tesla Model S sedan and died Tuesday night. Victoria Ballard, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Tesla's new speed control feature dedicated to Fort Lauderdale teen," 1 July 2018 Conroe police responded to the wreck just before midnight on Crighton Road at Crighton Ridge. Samantha Ketterer, Houston Chronicle, "Man fatally crashes into tree in Conroe," 13 June 2018 Top, a fisherman near wrecks of cargo ships at the Berbera port. Matina Stevis-gridneff, WSJ, "Middle East Power Struggle Plays Out on New Stage," 1 June 2018 The chance to be part of it makes an emotional wreck of Carlin. Dakota Crawford, Indianapolis Star, "Carlin on first Indy 500: 'We’re here, we’ve arrived, we belong'," 25 May 2018 Soon after a passenger plane crashed near Havana's airport last week, killing 111 people, Cuba's new president Miguel Díaz-Canel arrived at the scene as the wreck of the Boeing 737 still smouldered. Mimi Whitefield, miamiherald, "A hectic first month offers glimpse into leadership style of Cuba's handpicked president | Miami Herald," 24 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Unlike other board appointments required to go before City Council for approval, wrecking board members are appointed by Mayor Mike Duggan to serve three-year terms, with no other approval needed. Katrease Stafford, Detroit Free Press, "Concerns raised about contractors sitting on Detroit wrecking board," 9 July 2018 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

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

6 Oct 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

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