verb (used with object)
QUIZ YOURSELF ON "WAS" VS. "WERE"!
Origin of wreak
OTHER WORDS FROM wreakwreaker, noun
WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH wreakwreak , wreck
Words nearby wreak
WREAK VS. REEK
What’s the difference between wreak and reek?
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. Reek most commonly means to give off a strong, unpleasant odor, as in Your socks reek, dude.
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.
Wreak is always used with an object, usually some negative effect, as in The storm is expected to wreak destruction throughout the region.
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 and reek 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 wreak and reek 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 wreak vs. reek!
Should wreak or reek be used in the following sentence?
Don’t spray me with that stuff—I don’t want to _____ of cheap cologne!
Example sentences from the Web for wreak
With coronavirus still wreaking havoc on the economy, social unrest scrambling consumer sentiment and marketers pressured to prove their spending is driving results, many are focusing their spending on programs happening just a few weeks out.‘Nothing quite like being forced’: Publishers whip up quicker, cheaper ad products for advertisers|Max Willens|August 27, 2020|Digiday
The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on the supply chains of companies around the world—prompting firms in 80% of sectors globally to recalibrate their operations in some fashion, according to analysts at Bank of America Global Research.It would cost $1 trillion to move global supply chains out of China—but the long-term gains could be worth it|reymashayekhi|August 19, 2020|Fortune
There’s a limit to how much news we can take in as the virus wreaks havoc on our health, economy, and social lives.
For example, researchers have documented how the sweltering waters can bleach corals and wreak havoc on kelp forests.Species may swim thousands of kilometers to escape ocean heat waves|Carolyn Gramling|August 10, 2020|Science News
Keep in mind this brilliant marketing hack from McDonald’s for times when a seemingly minor customer complaint starts to wreak havoc for your business by going viral.Podcasts and internet marketing: Are you missing the boat?|Nasirabadi Reza|July 30, 2020|Search Engine Watch
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|Michael Daly|November 12, 2014|DAILY BEAST
The Fox miniseries 24: Live Another Day saw a massive drone wreak havoc on London.Ethan Hawke's 'Good Kill': A Searing Indictment of America's Drone Warfare Obsession|Marlow Stern|September 6, 2014|DAILY BEAST
They eat more than 500 kinds of plants and could wreak havoc if released into the North American environment.
Watch the green-clad moustachioed menace wreak havoc in Mario Kart 8, blowing up Waluigi and then giving a “death stare.”
But this is nothing compared to the devastating havoc a default will probably wreak.
I am allowed to live only so long as I am a willing tool, and foolish enough to wreak their evil will upon my people.Valley of the Croen|Lee Tarbell
Chaos is theirs, in which to wreak their mysterious vengeance: the den of the winds is more monstrous than that of lions.Toilers of the Sea|Victor Hugo
It was one of the last acts of Gage to plan with the Admiral how to wreak vengeance on the inhabitants of both those ports.The Loyalists of America and Their Times, Vol. 1 of 2|Egerton Ryerson
Then she fell again to thinking of her wrongs and planning how she should wreak vengeance upon Margaret Edes.The Butterfly House|Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
I was lifted up and cried aloud in the joy of having someone on whom to wreak my vengeance.The Making of a Saint|William Somerset Maugham