wreck

Definitions

General English

  • noun anything which has been damaged and cannot be used
  • verb to damage something very badly

Banking

  • noun the fact of collapsing, or a company which has collapsed

Law

  • noun the action of sinking or badly damaging a ship
  • noun a company which has become insolvent

Military

  • noun the accidental destruction of a ship (usually by running onto rocks)
  • noun the remains of a destroyed or badly damaged aircraft or vehicle
  • verb to destroy or badly damage an aircraft, ship or vehicle

Travel

  • noun the act of wrecking a ship or of being wrecked

Origin & History of “wreck”

Wreck goes back ultimately to the Indo-European base *wreg-, a variant of which may be responsible for English urge. Its Germanic descendant *wrek- formed the basis of a verb *wrekan ‘drive’. The native English descendant of this is wreak (OE), which originally meant ‘drive out’, and developed its modern meaning via ‘give vent to anger or other violent emotions’. Wreck itself was acquired via Old Norse *wrek and Anglo-Norman wrec, and etymologically it denotes a ship that has been ‘driven’ on to the shore. A variant of the same base, *wrak-, lies behind English wretch (OE) (etymologically someone ‘driven’ out, an ‘exile’) and also possibly French garçon ‘boy’.
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