1 : to cause the infliction of (vengeance or punishment)
2 : to give free play or course to (malevolent feeling)
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."
"A cheeky peacock has wreaked havoc inside a California liquor store, smashing over $500 worth of expensive wine and champagne." — Heat Street, 7 June 2017
"Don't be fooled by Mike Brown's big smile and happy-go-lucky demeanor. The Golden State Warriors' acting head coach is probably salivating over his chance to wreak brutal vengeance against the Cleveland Cavaliers—the team that fired him twice." — Chuck Barney, The Mercury News (San Jose, California), 7 June 2017
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