\ 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 Two Sheridan High School students were killed in a wreck on Tuesday, the district said in a statement. Nyssa Kruse, Arkansas Online, "2 Arkansas high school students killed in wreck," 27 Nov. 2019 Montgomery was pronounced dead at the scene. While the crash is still under investigation, King said investigators believe speed was a factor in that wreck. Ivana Hrynkiw | Ihrynkiw@al.com, al, "Three separate crashes near Tuscaloosa leave three dead," 23 Oct. 2019 One of two Chicago police officers who were hospitalized following a Wednesday afternoon collision in Oak Park had to be extricated from the vehicle, but neither suffered serious injuries in the wreck, officials said. Steve Schering, chicagotribune.com, "Fire official: Police car, SUV crash in Oak Park, sending 2 Chicago cops to hospital," 2 Oct. 2019 One 2020 Chevrolet Impala for $27,385 to replace a Sheriff’s Office vehicle that was in a wreck. Mary Grace Keller, baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, "Carroll County to upgrade detention center cameras, receives body armor grant," 7 Sep. 2019 Police did not say how many cars were involved, or the condition of the people involved in the wreck. oregonlive, "Crash on I-5 South; road will be closed until at least 11 p.m.," 28 Aug. 2019 Mollusks, meanwhile, are eating away most of the wood left in the wreck. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "The Titanic Is Being Reclaimed by the Sea," 22 Aug. 2019 The cause of death was complications from multiple traumatic injuries sustained in the wreck, according to the medical examiner’s office. Jerry Fallstrom, orlandosentinel.com, "Orlando man charged with DUI manslaughter in 2018 Lake County crash," 20 Aug. 2019 Benson’s attorney, Sam Bassett, said Austin law enforcement told him that Benson was killed in the wreck Saturday night. Jim Vertuno, The Denver Post, "Cedric Benson, former Texas Longhorns and NFL running back, dies in motorcycle accident," 18 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Kelly argued that the Republican cuts would wreck the budget. Washington Post, "Kansas boosts tax collection forecast $510M over 2 years," 8 Nov. 2019 Local media reports say that 800 ticket machines, 1,800 turnstiles, and 50 escalators have been wrecked. Time, "Hong Kong’s Subway System Was Once the City's Pride and Joy. Now It's a Target for Violent Protest," 25 Oct. 2019 Third, walkers come with a progressive dismemberment mechanic, which is a fancy way of saying that players can wreck enemies at any joint. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Here are the hottest video games to test drive at Comic-Con," 18 July 2019 The biggest threat may be that by reneging on the peace accord the next president could wreck any chance of reaching a deal with the ELN, which is negotiating with the government. The Economist, "Will Colombia’s next president imperil the peace deal with the FARC?," 26 May 2018 The claims include that Jackson, the White House physician, had wrecked a government vehicle after getting drunk at a Secret Service going-away party. The Washington Post, NOLA.com, "Ronny Jackson withdraws as Trump's nominee to lead Veterans Affairs," 26 Apr. 2018 Between the two elders addressing him is a long, richly documented story about a kid in Alief finding his way through the world, from child's play to gunplay, selling drugs, making songs, wrecking a car and helping his mother after Hurricane Harvey. Andrew Dansby, Houston Chronicle, "Rapper Maxo Kream opens up on "Punken"," 21 Mar. 2018 An old tree planted in Andrew Jackson’s time toppled over and wrecked a parked car. Carl Nolte, San Francisco Chronicle, "Seeing San Francisco through new eyes after trip to tidy D.C.," 10 Mar. 2018 Kyle went low trying to pass, but his car got loose and slid up into Kurt, wrecking both. Michael Knight, azcentral, "Busch brothers' rivalry still sizzling as NASCAR Cup series heads for Arizona," 2 Nov. 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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Learn More about wreck

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

1 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Wreck.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wrecked. Accessed 6 December 2019.

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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).


very cautious or careful

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