[ rech ]
/ rɛtʃ /


a deplorably unfortunate or unhappy person.
a person of despicable or base character.

Origin of wretch

before 900; Middle English wrecche, Old English wrecca exile, adventurer; cognate with German Recke warrior, hero, Old Norse rekkr man
Can be confusedretch wretch
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for wretch

British Dictionary definitions for wretch


/ (rɛtʃ) /


a despicable person
a person pitied for his misfortune

Word Origin for wretch

Old English wrecca; related to Old Saxon wrekkeo, Old High German reccheo (German Recke warrior), Old Norse rek (n) ingr
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 wretch



Old English wrecca "wretch, stranger, exile," from Proto-Germanic *wrakjan (cf. Old Saxon wrekkio, Old High German reckeo "a banished person, exile," German recke "renowned warrior, hero"), related to Old English wreccan "to drive out, punish" (see wreak). Sense of "vile, despicable person" developed in Old English, reflecting the sorry state of the outcast, as presented in much of Anglo-Saxon verse (e.g. "The Wanderer"). Cf. German Elend "misery," from Old High German elilenti "sojourn in a foreign land, exile."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper