\ 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 Halsell, 63, is scheduled to go on trial in Tuscaloosa on March 9 nearly four years after a two-vehicle wreck killed 11-year-old Niomi Deona James and 13-year-old Jayla Latrick Parler and injured their father and a woman. Washington Post, "Defense: No alcohol in fatal crash involving ex-astronaut," 10 Jan. 2020 In February 2014, 100 vehicles were involved in a wreck north of Philadelphia that injured at least 30 people. Amir Vera, CNN, "3 of the 5 people killed in the Pennsylvania Turnpike crash were ejected from vehicles, police say," 6 Jan. 2020 That all changed when Chacon was involved in a serious car wreck. Werner Trieschmann, Arkansas Online, "Chanda Cashen Chacon," 29 Dec. 2019 August 2017: 20 years since Princess Diana's death The world marks the 20th anniversary on Aug. 31 of the death in a Paris car wreck of Diana, the beloved Princess of Wales. Maria Puente, USA TODAY, "Top royal moments of the last decade: Will & Kate's wedding, the Queen's silly video and more," 16 Dec. 2019 Irv Slosberg said his 38-year-old daughter is still dealing with the trauma of losing her twin sister and four friends in a 1996 car wreck. Skyler Swisher, sun-sentinel.com, "Boca Raton state legislator back on duty after being hospitalized for PTSD, her father says," 13 Nov. 2019 And in Kansas, the Highway Patrol said an 8-year-old girl died in a three-vehicle wreck. Fox News, "Wisconsin bus driver saves children wandering in snow, as deadly Arctic air mass grips US," 13 Nov. 2019 The first season opens with the arrival of Cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun) seeking a cut of the family pie as Logan's health deteriorates, and ends with a traumatic car wreck in the midst of Shiv's wedding to ambitious buffoon Tom (Matthew Macfadyen). Carrie Wittmer, Harper's BAZAAR, "Succession Season 1: What You Need to Remember Before the New Season," 11 Aug. 2019 The vaccine, made by GSK, reduced malaria infections by about 40% in clinical trials — a substantial reduction given the scale of the devastation malaria wrecks. Helen Branswell, STAT, "The Gavi coalition boosts the global stockpile of Ebola vaccines," 5 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The lightly armed jihadists—probably no more than 15 of them—managed to kill three Americans (one soldier and two security contractors) and wreck six aircraft, some used by America’s armed forces for snooping missions across the Somali border. The Economist, "Al-Shabab and Iran An attack on American forces in Kenya raises questions and concerns," 11 Jan. 2020 Chain-reaction accidents can kill or injure dozens of people each winter and can wreck hundreds or even thousands of cars and trucks. Doyle Rice, USA TODAY, "Dangerous snow squalls are threatening travel in the northeast US," 9 Jan. 2020 Jesse Chavez, back from an arm injury that really wrecked his whole season even before he was shut down, would be another option for the eighth. Evan Grant, Dallas News, "Why the Texas Rangers should try to sign both Nicholas Castellanos and Todd Frazier," 9 Jan. 2020 Shogo Akiyama toured our town this week and immediately started wrecking his diet. Paul Daugherty, Cincinnati.com, "Doc's Morning Line: The most important thing about Reds' offseason so far," 8 Jan. 2020 Paradela has been able to pay for a new car after her old one was wrecked in a crash. Alexei Koseff, SFChronicle.com, "Can $500 a month change a city? Stockton tests universal basic income," 1 Jan. 2020 The victim wrecked while trying to avoid further injury, Agee said. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al, "Man shot while driving in Fairfield over the weekend," 30 Dec. 2019 According to Ann Marie McDonald, program officer for Alzheimer’s Association Houston & Southeast Texas Chapter, around 390,000 people in Texas are living with the devastating disease that wrecks memory and other mental capacities. Tracy Maness, Houston Chronicle, "Alzheimer’s Association makes strides in 2019," 26 Dec. 2019 That’s the same disease that has wrecked its sister plant, redtip photinias. Neil Sperry, ExpressNews.com, "Garden murder mysteries: What killed this Indian Hawthorn, Asian jasmine, St. Augustine grass and yaupon holly?," 26 Dec. 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.

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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

13 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Wreck.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wreck. Accessed 23 January 2020.

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on wreck

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for wreck

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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).


out of the ordinary or unreasonable

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