the destruction or loss of a ship, as by sinking.
the remains of a wrecked ship.
destruction or ruin: the shipwreck of one's hopes.

verb (used with object)

to cause to suffer shipwreck.
to destroy; ruin.

verb (used without object)

to suffer shipwreck.

Origin of shipwreck

before 1100; Middle English shipwrech remains of a shipwreck; see ship1, wreck; replacing Old English scipwræc (see wrack1) Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for shipwreck

Contemporary Examples of shipwreck

Historical Examples of shipwreck

  • 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



the partial or total destruction of a ship at sea
a wrecked ship or part of such a ship
ruin or destructionthe shipwreck of all my hopes

verb (tr)

to wreck or destroy (a ship)
to bring to ruin or destruction

Word Origin for shipwreck

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."


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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper