1. The act of destroying or the state of being destroyed; destruction: "The filmmaker ... was hardly the first person to blame misguided agriculture for the wreck of the plains" (Timothy Egan).
a. Accidental destruction of a ship; a shipwreck.
b. The stranded hulk of a severely damaged ship.
c. Fragments of a ship or its cargo cast ashore by the sea after a shipwreck; wreckage.
a. An automobile or railroad collision or accident: witnessed a wreck on the highway.
b. The remains of something that has been wrecked, especially an automobile that has crashed: walked away unharmed from the wreck.
a. Something that is dilapidated or worn out: still driving that wreck of a car; living in a wreck of a house.
b. A person who is physically or mentally worn out.
v. wrecked, wreck·ing, wrecks
1. To cause the destruction of in a collision: wrecked the car by hitting a tree.
2. To dismantle or raze; tear down.
1. To suffer destruction or ruin; become wrecked: a ship that wrecked on the rocks.
2. Informal To experience or cause an accident in which the vehicle one is riding in is badly damaged: They were speeding over 70 miles an hour when they wrecked.
3. To work as a wrecker.
[Middle English wrek, from Anglo-Norman wrec, of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse rec, wreckage.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.