[ rek ]
/ rɛk /
Save This Word!
See synonyms for: wreck / wrecked / wrecking on Thesaurus.com

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.
Smoothly step over to these common grammar mistakes that trip many people up. Good luck!
Question 1 of 7
Fill in the blank: I can’t figure out _____ gave me this gift.

Origin of wreck

First recorded in 1200–50; (noun) Middle English wrec, wrech, wrek, from Old Danish wrækæ “wreck”; (verb) late Middle English, derivative of the noun

synonym study for wreck

9. See spoil.


un·wrecked, adjective


wreak, wreck
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does wreck mean?

To wreck something is to destroy, ruin, or severely damage it.

It’s commonly used in the context of the destruction of physical objects, as in He wrecked the car when he hit the tree. 

Nonphysical things can also be wrecked, as in Tom’s poor planning wrecked his chances of finishing his homework in time to go to baseball practice.

Wreck is also commonly used as a noun referring to something that has been destroyed or turned into a ruin, such as a building, as in All that was left of the house after the fire was a burnt wreck. 

Wreck is often used figuratively to describe a person who is in bad health or who is emotionally or mentally unwell, as in Stress reduces him to a nervous wreck. 

Wreck is also used in a more specific way to refer to sunken or destroyed ships, as in The diver went to the bottom of the sea to explore the wreck. The word shipwreck means the same thing.

The word wreckage refers to the remains of something that has been wrecked.

Example: I cried so much at the end of that movie that I was an emotional wreck for the rest of the day.

Where does wreck come from?

The first records of the word wreck come from the early 1200s. It comes from the Old Danish wrækæ. The words wrack (as in wrack and ruin) and wreak (as in wreak havoc) are related.

Both the noun and verb senses of wreck typically involve things being ruined, destroyed, or violently damaged—not just slightly damaged or messed up. A car wreck involves a crash that damages the car beyond repair. A wrecking ball is used to demolish buildings. When rain wrecks your plans for a day outside, it ruins them and forces you to do something else. A person who’s an emotional wreck is not OK—they’re emotional state has been greatly broken or damaged.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to wreck?

What are some synonyms for wreck?

What are some words that share a root or word element with wreck

What are some words that often get used in discussing wreck?

What are some words wreck may be commonly confused with?

How is wreck used in real life?

Wreck is commonly used as both a noun and a verb.


Try using wreck!

Which of the following words is a synonym of wreck?

A. create
B. destroy
C. build
D. infect

How to use wreck in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for wreck

/ (rɛk) /

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

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