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

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 wretch in question has cut down one of the speaker’s spruce trees without his permission. Casey Cep, The New Yorker, 23 Dec. 2023 Had this poor wretch been well supplied with friends and money the result, as in numerous other instances, might have been different. San Diego Union-Tribune, 3 Mar. 2023 Or would a wretch like me be saved by His amazing grace? Damon Young, Washington Post, 24 Oct. 2022 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 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'wretch.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near wretch

Cite this Entry

“Wretch.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wretch. Accessed 27 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


: a miserable unhappy person
: a mean or evil person

More from Merriam-Webster on wretch

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