AskDefine | Define wreak

The Collaborative Dictionary

Wreak \Wreak\ (r[=e]k), v. i. To reck; to care. [Obs.] --Shak. [1913 Webster]
Wreak \Wreak\ (r[=e]k), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Wreaked (r[=e]kt); p. pr. & vb. n. Wreaking.] [OE. wreken to revenge, punish, drive out, AS. wrecan; akin to OFries. wreka, OS. wrekan to punish, D. wreken to avenge, G. r[aum]chen, OHG. rehhan, Icel. reka to drive, to take vengeance, Goth. wrikan to persecute, Lith. vargas distress, vargti to suffer distress, L. urgere to drive, urge, Gr. e'i`rgein to shut, Skr. v[.r]j to turn away. Cf. Urge, Wreck, Wretch.] [1913 Webster]
To revenge; to avenge. [Archaic] [1913 Webster] He should wreake him on his foes. --Chaucer. [1913 Webster] Another's wrongs to wreak upon thyself. --Spenser. [1913 Webster] Come wreak his loss, whom bootless ye complain. --Fairfax. [1913 Webster]
To inflict or execute, especially in vengeance or passion; to hurl or drive; as, to wreak vengeance on an enemy; to wreak havoc. [1913 Webster] Note: The word wrought is sometimes assumed to be the past tense of wreak, as the phrases wreak havoc and wrought havoc are both commonly used. In fact, wrought havoc is not as common as wreaked havoc. Whether wrought is considered as the past tense of wreak or of work, wrought havoc has essentially the same meaning. Etymologically, however, wrought is only the past tense of work. [PJC] On me let Death wreak all his rage. --Milton. [1913 Webster] Now was the time to be avenged on his old enemy, to wreak a grudge of seventeen years. --Macaulay. [1913 Webster] But gather all thy powers, And wreak them on the verse that thou dost weave. --Bryant. [1913 Webster]
Wreak \Wreak\, n. [Cf. AS. wr[ae]c exile, persecution, misery. See Wreak, v. t.] Revenge; vengeance; furious passion; resentment. [Obs.] --Shak. Spenser. [1913 Webster]

Word Net

wreak v : cause to happen or to occur as a consequence; "I cannot work a miracle"; "wreak havoc"; "bring comments"; "play a joke"; "The rain brought relief to the drought-stricken area" [syn: bring, work, play, make for]

Moby Thesaurus

accomplish, achieve, bring, bring about, bring off, bring to pass, bring upon, commit, do, do to, effect, effectuate, force, go and do, impose, inflict, make, pay, perpetrate, produce, pull off, realize, render, take and do, up and do, visit, visit upon, wreck



Etymology 1

wrecan, from Germanic *wrek-, from Indo-European *wreg-. Cognate with Dutch wreken, German rächen, Swedish vräka; Latin urgere is from the same Indo-European root.


  1. To cause, inflict or let out
    The earthquake wreaked havoc in the city.
    She wreaked her anger on his car.
  2. To inflict or take vengeance on


See also

Etymology 2

A Northern variant of wreche, influenced later by Etymology 1, above.


  1. Punishment; retribution, revenge.
    • 1885: Of a surety none murdered the damsel but I; take her wreak on me this moment — Sir Richard Burton, The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night, Night 19
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