Word of the Day : December 21, 2011


verb REEK


1 : to cause the infliction of (vengeance or punishment)

2 : to give free play or course to (malevolent feeling)

3 : bring about, cause

Did You Know?

"Wreak" is a venerable word that first appeared in Old English as "wrecan," meaning "to drive, drive out, punish, or avenge." "Wrecan" is related to a number of similar words in the Germanic languages, including Middle Dutch "wreken" ("to punish, avenge"), Old High German "rehhan" ("to avenge"), Old Norse "reka" ("to drive, push, or avenge"), and Gothic "wrikan" ("to persecute"). It may also be related to Latin "urgēre" ("to drive on, urge"), the source of the English verb "urge." In modern English, vengeance is a common object of the verb "wreak," reflecting one of its earlier uses in the sense "to take vengeance for" -- as when Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus proclaims "We will solicit heaven, and move the gods / To send down Justice for to wreak our wrongs."


The visiting team's skilled receivers wreaked havoc on our defense all night long.

"Emily VanCamp stars [as] a wealthy young woman who returns to her former Hamptons home to wreak vengeance on the people who ruined her family. " -- From a review by Glenn Teichman in The Times-Union, September 16, 2011

Test Your Memory

What word completes this sentence from a recent Word of the Day piece: "Renaming the high school gymnasium after the beloved late basketball coach would __________ her memory for years to come"? The answer is ...


More Words of the Day

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!