- to inflict or execute (punishment, vengeance, etc.): They wreaked havoc on the enemy.
- to carry out the promptings of (one's rage, ill humor, will, desire, etc.), as on a victim or object: He wreaked his anger on the office staff.
Origin of wreak
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for wreak
The mother also made a plea to the violent ones who wreak such havoc.11 Children Shot in Milwaukee, One in Her Grandpa's Lap
November 12, 2014
They eat more than 500 kinds of plants and could wreak havoc if released into the North American environment.The $10 Billion Pet Cheetah and Chimp Industry
July 20, 2014
Daniel Gross on how the shutdown could wreak havoc on a key part of the U.S. economy.Tourism Is a Big Deal, and the Shutdown Will Ruin It
October 2, 2013
Why didn't God empower the Israelites to wreak vengeance on their enemies who were evil people?Passover, Non-Violence And Gun Control
March 25, 2013
This summer's punishing heat wave could wreak havoc on grocery bills.Will Food Prices Jump After the Heat Wave?
August 11, 2012
It had gripped savagely hold of him and was about to wreak upon him some terrific hurt.
Here was some thing, not wood nor iron, upon which to wreak his hate.
Roderic was inflamed with anger and disgust; but he had none, upon whom to wreak his revenge.Imogen
And to think that you should be the man on whom he was to wreak his treachery.The Night Riders
Is there, then, no way to wreak the just revenge of a broken heart?Recollections of Dante Gabriel Rossetti
T. Hall Caine
- to inflict (vengeance, etc) or to cause (chaos, etc)to wreak havoc on the enemy
- to express, or gratify (anger, hatred, etc)
- archaic to take vengeance for
Word Origin and History for wreak
Old English wrecan "avenge," originally "to drive, drive out, punish" (class V strong verb; past tense wræc, past participle wrecen), from Proto-Germanic *wrekanan (cf. Old Saxon wrekan, Old Norse reka, Old Frisian wreka, Middle Dutch wreken "to drive, push, compel, pursue, throw," Old High German rehhan, German rächen "to avenge," Gothic wrikan "to persecute"), from PIE root *werg- "to work, to do" (cf. Lithuanian vergas "distress," vergas "slave;" Old Church Slavonic vragu "enemy;" Latin urgere; see urge (v.)). Meaning "inflict or take vengeance," with on, is recorded from late 15c.; that of "inflict or cause (damage or destruction)" is attested from 1817.