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See more synonyms for shipwreck on Thesaurus.com
  1. the destruction or loss of a ship, as by sinking.
  2. the remains of a wrecked ship.
  3. destruction or ruin: the shipwreck of one's hopes.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to cause to suffer shipwreck.
  2. to destroy; ruin.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to suffer shipwreck.
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Origin of shipwreck

before 1100; Middle English shipwrech remains of a shipwreck; see ship1, wreck; replacing Old English scipwræc (see wrack1)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for shipwreck

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Doctor Chassaigne's story was one of disaster, the shipwreck of a life.

  • Some of them resulted in terrible disasters of shipwreck and death.

    The Nation in a Nutshell

    George Makepeace Towle

  • Mishap, desertion, and shipwreck pursued the luckless commander.

    Introductory American History

    Henry Eldridge Bourne

  • Shipwreck or burial at sea she deduced from the fact of there being no grave in the cemetery.


    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • About a shipwreck—something about a shipwreck in it, wasn't there?

    The Portygee

    Joseph Crosby Lincoln

British Dictionary definitions for shipwreck


  1. the partial or total destruction of a ship at sea
  2. a wrecked ship or part of such a ship
  3. ruin or destructionthe shipwreck of all my hopes
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verb (tr)
  1. to wreck or destroy (a ship)
  2. to bring to ruin or destruction
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Word Origin

Old English scipwræc, from ship + wræc something driven by the sea; see wrack ²
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 shipwreck


mid-15c., from ship (n.) + wreck (n.). Earlier it meant "things cast up from a shipwreck" (c.1100). The earlier word for "shipwreck" in the modern sense was Middle English schipbreke, "'ship-break,'" from a North Sea Germanic word, cf. West Frisian skipbrek, Middle Dutch schipbroke, German Schiffbruch, Old English scipgebroc. Old English scipbryce meant "right to claim goods from a wrecked ship."

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1580s, "cause to wreck;" c.1600, "to suffer shipwreck," from shipwreck (n.). Related: Shipwrecked.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper