[ rek-er ]
/ ˈrɛk ər /


a person or thing that wrecks.
a person, car, or train employed in removing wreckage, debris, etc., as from railroad tracks.
Also called tow car, tow truck. a vehicle equipped with a mechanical apparatus for hoisting and pulling, used to tow wrecked, disabled, or stalled automobiles.
Also called housewrecker. a person whose business it is to demolish and remove houses or other buildings, as in clearing sites for other use.
a person or vessel employed in recovering salvage from wrecked or disabled vessels.
a person who plunders wrecks, especially after exhibiting false signals in order to cause shipwrecks.

Nearby words

  1. wreaths,
  2. wreathy,
  3. wreck,
  4. wreckage,
  5. wrecked,
  6. wrecker's ball,
  7. wreckfish,
  8. wreckful,
  9. wrecking,
  10. wrecking bar

Origin of wrecker

First recorded in 1795–1805; wreck + -er1

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

Examples from the Web for wrecker

British Dictionary definitions for wrecker


/ (ˈrɛkə) /


a person or thing that ruins or destroys
mainly US and Canadian a person whose job is to demolish buildings or dismantle cars
(formerly) a person who lures ships to destruction to plunder the wreckage
US and Canadian another word for tow truck
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 wrecker



1804, in reference to those who salvage cargos from wrecked ships, from wreck (n.). In Britain often with a overtones of "one who causes a shipwreck in order to plunder it" (1820); but in 19c. Bahamas and the Florida Keys it could be a legal occupation. Applied to those who wreck and plunder institutions from 1882. Meaning "demolition worker" attested by 1958. As a type of ship employed in salvage operations, from 1789. As a railway vehicle with a crane or hoist, from 1904.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper