\ ˈrech How to pronounce wretch (audio) \

Definition of wretch

1 : a miserable person : one who is profoundly unhappy or in great misfortune
2 : a base, despicable, or vile person

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Examples of wretch in a Sentence

The poor wretch lost his job. the clerk was an ungrateful wretch who stole money from his employer's cash register
Recent Examples on the Web The song's lyrics also leave no topic off limits, touching on all that made the band wonder and wretch, with a tongue-in-cheek approach. Derek Scancarelli, EW.com, 12 May 2022 Washington Park neighborhood was torched by some ungrateful wretch just hours after a crowd of about 200 kids and adults lit the tree and enjoyed a night of caroling in the grassy median at Martin Luther King Drive and Garfield Boulevard. Rex Huppke, chicagotribune.com, 10 Dec. 2021 Ji Seong-ho is a street kid, a homeless kid, a wretch. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, 4 May 2020 While many superhero shows continue to traffic in one-dimensional super villains, the sophisticated dramas give us more ambiguous wretches. Matthew Gilbert, BostonGlobe.com, 6 July 2018 Smart security services may see, on smart video, that their populations get restive—but that doesn’t mean the wretches actually stop. Bruce Sterling, The Atlantic, 12 Feb. 2018 Amazing grace saved a wretch like him and ended slavery in Great Britain. Anchorage Daily News, 23 Dec. 2017 Mark Twain comes along and, in a three-to-four-page comic rant about the animal, gives us a way to think of it as a cowardly, despicable little wretch that lives off carrion. National Geographic, 7 Aug. 2016 Only an actor of Hoffman's caliber could've imbued such a wretch with that sort of complexity, even dignity. Dustin Krcatovich, Esquire, 4 Feb. 2014 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'wretch.' 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 wretch

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for wretch

Middle English wrecche, going back to Old English wræcca, wrecce "exile, stranger, despicable person," going back to Germanic *wrakjan- "someone pursued, exile" (whence Old Saxon wrekkio "stranger," Old High German reccho, reccheo, recko "person banished, stranger"), noun derivative of *wrekan- "to pursue" — more at wreak

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Time Traveler for wretch

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The first known use of wretch was before the 12th century

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Dictionary Entries Near wretch

wrest plank



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Statistics for wretch

Last Updated

17 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Wretch.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wretch. Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for wretch


\ ˈrech How to pronounce wretch (audio) \

Kids Definition of wretch

1 : a miserable unhappy person
2 : a very bad person You're an ungrateful wretch.

More from Merriam-Webster on wretch

Nglish: Translation of wretch for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wretch for Arabic Speakers


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