\ 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
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

The train-wreck moment of the 2009 VMAs struck twin chords of fantasy and fear. Klara Auerbach, Washington Post, "How two superstars, four words, and 15 seconds of TV influenced a decade of pop culture," 14 Aug. 2019 But last year only 14,258 fans per game showed up to watch a team that finished 18 games above .500, a measure of apathy eclipsed only by the train-wreck Marlins to the east and the Rays' worst box-office showing in 13 years. Matt Bonesteel, courant.com, "Rays’ city-sharing plan has problems, but team’s owner calls it an ‘amazing idea’," 26 June 2019 But last year only 14,258 fans per game showed up to watch a team that finished 18 games above .500, a measure of apathy eclipsed only by the train-wreck Marlins to the east and the Rays’ worst box-office showing in 13 years. Matt Bonesteel, The Denver Post, "Rays’ city-sharing plan has problems, but team’s owner calls it an “amazing idea”," 26 June 2019 But the Sox also recognize that Hernandez has been vulnerable to train-wreck innings, and those usually come a bit deeper than the first inning. Alex Speier, BostonGlobe.com, "Darwinzon Hernandez loaded with promise but can’t find his spot," 21 June 2019 Besides continuing with the Ducks’ younger players, Eakins will be responsible with moving the team forward from a train-wreck season in which the team’s older group was exposed and called out by Murray for a lack of care. Curtis Zupke, latimes.com, "Ducks expected to hire Dallas Eakins as their next coach," 16 June 2019 The train-wreck 2007-08 season did feature the arrival of first-round pick Noah, whose inconsistent and arrogant rookie season included a virtually unprecedented vote by teammates to extend a suspension interim coach Jim Boylan had levied. K.c. Johnson, chicagotribune.com, "20 years since dissolution of the dynasty, Bulls still a long way from the top," 10 June 2018 The former series champ's first race as part of a timeshare with Trevor Bayne in the No. 6 for Roush Fenway Racing was spent lamenting a lack of speed, and ended when Byron triggered his hard wreck with 15 laps to go. Fox News, "NASCAR's Harvick wins at Kansas Speedway in record-setting start," 13 May 2018 There are several ways to measure the improvement of the LSU basketball program from last season's 10-21 train wreck. Ron Higgins, NOLA.com, "In LSU coach Will Wade's world, it's never totally excellent," 11 Feb. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Golden State Warriors guards Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry together have wrecked the NBA for the past five seasons. Cameron Fields, Warriors Wire, "Will Klay Thompson's legacy forever be tied to Steph Curry's?," 18 Aug. 2019 The game at Center Grove will be really tough, but even a loss there does not wreck the end goal. Kyle Neddenriep, Indianapolis Star, "High school football top-10 countdown: Wrecking ball New Palestine goes for repeat," 13 Aug. 2019 Many dreams and careers have been wrecked by destructive relationships. Terry Pluto, cleveland.com, "Faith & You: A few things you probably won’t hear in most graduation speeches – Terry Pluto," 7 June 2019 Jackson was also accused of wrecking a government vehicle while intoxicated. Kaitlyn Schallhorn, Fox News, "From California House races to women winning big, 9 things to know about Tuesday's primaries," 7 June 2018 When the deputy pulled behind the Trailblazer, Johnson sped away, only to lose control and wreck the vehicle after a short chase. Carol Robinson, AL.com, "'Violent career criminal' sentenced to nearly 22 years in federal prison for 2016 carjacking," 21 Mar. 2018 By the early 20th century, the disease had spread to 14 southern states, wrecking havoc on the region’s cattle industry. John Maccormack, ExpressNews.com, "Deadly fever ticks are infesting border cattle herds," 2 Aug. 2019 The storm wrecked the tourism industry, a critical source of income for the island, and unemployment is at 7.7 percent (nearly double the rate on the US mainland). Alexia Fernández Campbell, Vox, "Puerto Rico is in political chaos. Here’s what’s at stake.," 24 July 2019 How has someone who doesn’t even speak to her also wrecked that faraway possibility? Ariana Romero, refinery29.com, "The Sweetbitter Premiere Finally Gave Us Tess’ Juicy, Tragic Backstory," 15 July 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

Dictionary Entries near wreck


wreath shell






Statistics for wreck

Last Updated

8 Sep 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
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

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).


readily or continually undergoing change

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