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  1. any building, structure, or thing reduced to a state of ruin.
  2. wreckage, goods, etc., remaining above water after a shipwreck, especially when cast ashore.
  3. the ruin or destruction of a vessel in the course of navigation; shipwreck.
  4. a vessel in a state of ruin from disaster at sea, on rocks, etc.
  5. the ruin or destruction of anything: the wreck of one's hopes.
  6. a person of ruined health; someone in bad shape physically or mentally: The strain of his work left him a wreck.
verb (used with object)
  1. to cause the wreck of (a vessel); shipwreck.
  2. to involve in a wreck.
  3. to cause the ruin or destruction of: to wreck a car.
  4. to tear down; demolish: to wreck a building.
  5. to ruin or impair severely: Fast living wrecked their health.
verb (used without object)
  1. to be involved in a wreck; become wrecked: The trains wrecked at the crossing.
  2. to act as a wrecker; engage in wrecking.

Origin of wreck

1200–50; (noun) Middle English wrec, wrech, wrek < Old Danish wrækæ wreck; (v.) late Middle English, derivative of the noun
Related formsun·wrecked, adjective
Can be confusedrack wrack wreak wreckracked wracked wreaked wrecked


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9. destroy, devastate, shatter. See spoil.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for wrecked

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • It is but a feeble destiny that is wrecked by passion, when it should be ennobled.


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • It was afterwards reported, that near fifty vessels were wrecked on the Irish coast.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • There was also an Englishman who worked his passage, having been the cooper of a whaler that was wrecked.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • Her soul was wrecked as truly as if the whole world knew it, and could cry to her "Shame!"

    Meadow Grass

    Alice Brown

  • Mr. Clews also tells us how roads are wrecked by their boards of directors.

    The Railroad Question

    William Larrabee

British Dictionary definitions for wrecked


  1. slang in a state of intoxication, stupor, or euphoria, induced by drugs or alcohol


  1. to involve in or suffer disaster or destruction
  2. (tr) to cause the wreck of (a ship)
    1. the accidental destruction of a ship at sea
    2. the ship so destroyed
  1. maritime law goods cast ashore from a wrecked vessel
  2. a person or thing that has suffered ruin or dilapidation
  3. the remains of something that has been destroyed
  4. old-fashioned the act of wrecking or the state of being wrecked; ruin or destruction

Word Origin

C13: from Scandinavian; compare Icelandic rek. See wrack ², wreak
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for wrecked



early 13c., "goods cast ashore after a shipwreck, flotsam," from Anglo-French wrec, from Old Norse *wrek (cf. Norwegian, Icelandic rek) "wreck, flotsam," related to reka "to drive, push" (see wreak). The meaning "a shipwreck" is first recorded mid-15c.; that of "a wrecked ship" is from c.1500. General sense of "remains of anything that has been ruined" is recorded from 1713; applied by 1795 to dissipated persons.



"to destroy, ruin," c.1500, from wreck (n.). Related: Wrecked; wrecking. Earlier (12c.) it meant "drive out or away, remove;" also "take vengeance."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper