See more synonyms for wrecking on Thesaurus.com
  1. employed or for use in wrecking: a wrecking crew.

Origin of wrecking

First recorded in 1795–1805; wreck + -ing1


  1. any building, structure, or thing reduced to a state of ruin.
  2. wreckage, goods, etc., remaining above water after a shipwreck, especially when cast ashore.
  3. the ruin or destruction of a vessel in the course of navigation; shipwreck.
  4. a vessel in a state of ruin from disaster at sea, on rocks, etc.
  5. the ruin or destruction of anything: the wreck of one's hopes.
  6. a person of ruined health; someone in bad shape physically or mentally: The strain of his work left him a wreck.
verb (used with object)
  1. to cause the wreck of (a vessel); shipwreck.
  2. to involve in a wreck.
  3. to cause the ruin or destruction of: to wreck a car.
  4. to tear down; demolish: to wreck a building.
  5. to ruin or impair severely: Fast living wrecked their health.
verb (used without object)
  1. to be involved in a wreck; become wrecked: The trains wrecked at the crossing.
  2. 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

See more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for wrecking

Contemporary Examples of wrecking

Historical Examples of wrecking

  • They have found the books; they have understood them; and they are wrecking the place.

    Roden's Corner

    Henry Seton Merriman

  • He shivered to think how near he had gone to wrecking all the happiness that lay ahead of him.

    The Sea-Hawk

    Raphael Sabatini

  • That is one of the points old Gladstone is wrecking the country on.

    Ireland as It Is

    Robert John Buckley (AKA R.J.B.)

  • Cannot you see, woman, that by this language you are wrecking your last hope of safety?

    One Of Them

    Charles James Lever

  • He was dressed in sheepskins, and, I believe, lived by wrecking.

British Dictionary definitions for wrecking


  1. to involve in or suffer disaster or destruction
  2. (tr) to cause the wreck of (a ship)
    1. the accidental destruction of a ship at sea
    2. the ship so destroyed
  1. maritime law goods cast ashore from a wrecked vessel
  2. a person or thing that has suffered ruin or dilapidation
  3. the remains of something that has been destroyed
  4. 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 wrecking



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