use-icon

HOW TO USE THE DICTIONARY

Learn what the dictionary tells you about words.

Get Started Now!

Some compound words (like bus rapid transit, dog whistle, or identity theft) don’t appear on the drop-down list when you enter them into the search window. If a compound term doesn’t appear in the drop-down list, try entering the term into the search window and then hit the search button (instead of the “enter” key). Alternatively, begin searches for compound terms with a quotation mark.

use-icon

THE USAGE PANEL

The Usage Panel is a group of nearly 200 prominent scholars, creative writers, journalists, diplomats, and others in occupations requiring mastery of language. The Panelists are surveyed annually to gauge the acceptability of particular usages and grammatical constructions.

The Panelists

puzzle-icon

NEED HELP SOLVING A CROSSWORD PUZZLE?

Go to our Crossword Puzzle Solver and type in the letters that you know, and the Solver will produce a list of possible solutions.

open-icon

AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY APP

The new American Heritage Dictionary app is now available for iOS and Android.

scroll-icon

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:

Indo-European Roots

Semitic Roots

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.

100-words-icon

See word lists from the best-selling 100 Words Series!

Find out more!

open-icon

INTERESTED IN DICTIONARIES?

Check out the Dictionary Society of North America at http://www.dictionarysociety.com

wreck (rĕk)
Share:
n.
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).
2.
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.
3.
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.
4.
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
v.tr.
1. To cause the destruction of in a collision: wrecked the car by hitting a tree.
2. To dismantle or raze; tear down.
3. To cause to undergo ruin or disaster: an argument that wrecked their friendship. See Synonyms at blast, destroy. See Usage Note at wreak.
v.intr.
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 ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

This website is best viewed in Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or Safari. Some characters in pronunciations and etymologies cannot be displayed properly in Internet Explorer.