verb (used with object)

verb (used without object)

to be involved in a wreck; become wrecked: The trains wrecked at the crossing.
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

Synonyms for wreck

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for wreck

Contemporary Examples of wreck

Historical Examples of wreck

  • There were so many ways in which the wreck might have gone out of life and left no sign.

  • As was said, the only soul who escaped alive off the wreck was Tom Chist.

  • On inquiry, he learned that it had come from a wreck in which there were several ladies.

    Georgie's Present

    Miss Brightwell

  • And the battles which wreck ministers are waged round his name.

  • His first step was to restore discipline in the Chapter, which had all gone to wreck.

    Albert Durer

    T. Sturge Moore

British Dictionary definitions for wreck



to involve in or suffer disaster or destruction
(tr) to cause the wreck of (a ship)


  1. the accidental destruction of a ship at sea
  2. the ship so destroyed
maritime law goods cast ashore from a wrecked vessel
a person or thing that has suffered ruin or dilapidation
the remains of something that has been destroyed
old-fashioned the act of wrecking or the state of being wrecked; ruin or destruction

Word Origin for wreck

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 wreck

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