Origin of reek
OTHER WORDS FROM reekreeker, nounreek·ing·ly, adverbreeky, adjective
Words nearby reek
REEK VS. WREAK
What’s the difference between reek and wreak?
Reek most commonly means to give off a strong, unpleasant odor, as in Your socks reek, dude. Wreak means to inflict or carry out something, especially something harmful—it’s most commonly used in the phrase wreak havoc, meaning to cause chaos or destruction or both.
While wreak is only ever used as a verb, reek can also be used as a noun meaning a strong, unpleasant smell, though this use is much less common.
Reek usually functions without an object, though in some cases it is followed by the word of and the particular smell, as in It reeks of onions in here. This is also the case when reek is used in a more figurative way meaning to be penetrated or saturated with something negative, as in This case reeks of corruption.
Wreak is always used with an object, usually some negative effect, as in The storm is expected to wreak destruction throughout the region.
Reek and wreak are pronounced exactly the same, so it can be hard to remember which one is which, but you can remember that wreak begins with a w because it is often used in the context of things getting wrecked.
Here’s an example of reek and wreak used correctly in the same sentence.
Example: I like cooking with leeks, but my wife thinks they reek and says they wreak havoc on her ability to smell anything else.
Want to learn more? Read the full breakdown of the difference between reeking and wreaking.
Quiz yourself on reek vs. wreak!
Should reek or wreak be used in the following sentence?
Don’t spray me with that stuff—I don’t want to _____ of cheap cologne!
How to use reek in a sentence
At that very thought, the engine modes down and the reek of exhaust pulls over us, thick as a quilt.The Whale Who Will Come Soon - Issue 105: Whale Songs|Rebecca Giggs|September 8, 2021|Nautilus
Both reek of false modesty, but Deen does appear jumpy and genuinely anxious at times.My Bizarre Night With James Deen, Libertarian Porn Star|Emily Shire|November 12, 2014|DAILY BEAST
And hipsters and hippies now reek of old-school, kneejerk attitudes.
The particulars of this case, in fact, reek with the stench of crony capitalism.
A moment later there was Something nearly at his left elbow, and he smelt again the nameless, fœtid reek.Uncanny Tales|Various
The reek of hot tin from the dark lantern grew worse momentarily.The Gold Bat|P. G. Wodehouse
This first was the Boer hospital, and even at this early hour the air was pungent with the reek of strong tobacco.The Relief of Mafeking|Filson Young
At such times I could detect the faint reek of alcohol coming through his pores.Tramping on Life|Harry Kemp
It overlaid the reek of the cattle yards, the fumes of rank spirits and tobacco that came from the shanties.The Pioneers|Katharine Susannah Prichard