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[rak] /ræk/
wreck or wreckage.
damage or destruction:
wrack and ruin.
a trace of something destroyed:
leaving not a wrack behind.
seaweed or other vegetation cast on the shore.
verb (used with object)
to wreck:
He wracked his car up on the river road.
Origin of wrack1
before 900; Middle English wrak (noun), Old English wræc vengeance, misery, akin to wracu vengeance, misery, wrecan to wreak
Can be confused
rack, wrack, wreak, wreck.
racked, wracked, wreaked, wrecked.


[rak] /ræk/
noun, verb (used without object)
rack4 . Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for wrack
  • Most dark areas observed from the beach consisted of submerged wrack that was not oiled.
  • Dead floating plant material, called wrack, is often deposited on salt marshes by high spring tides.
  • wrack deposition was observed in existing ponds and lakes located behind some of these new surge scours.
  • Orientation of wrack deposits was the same as the channel striations.
  • Note the dark brown wrack, wave deposited dead vegetation and debris, on right.
  • The wrack line of debris is a five to eight foot high pile that ended up several blocks inland.
  • He is concerned that fishing lines, debris, and bottles may be left in the wrack.
  • Some wrack was observed and the potential for considerable wrack deposits seemed possible with winter wind conditions.
  • Food is obtained by foraging on beaches, dunes and in tidal wrack.
  • Drift seeds are common in wrack lines of sea debris along beaches throughout the world.
British Dictionary definitions for wrack


collapse or destruction (esp in the phrase wrack and ruin)
something destroyed or a remnant of such
a variant spelling of rack1
Usage note
The use of the spelling wrack rather than rack in sentences such as she was wracked by grief or the country was wracked by civil war is very common but is thought by many people to be incorrect
Word Origin
Old English wræc persecution, misery; related to Gothic wraka, Old Norse rāk. Compare wreck, wretch


seaweed or other marine vegetation that is floating in the sea or has been cast ashore
any of various seaweeds of the genus Fucus, such as F. serratus (serrated wrack)
(literary or dialect)
  1. a wreck or piece of wreckage
  2. a remnant or fragment of something destroyed
Word Origin
C14 (in the sense: a wrecked ship, wreckage, hence later applied to marine vegetation washed ashore): perhaps from Middle Dutch wrak wreckage; the term corresponds to Old English wræcwrack1
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
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Word Origin and History for wrack

late 14c., "wrecked ship," probably from Middle Dutch wrak "wreck," cognate with Old English wræc "misery, punishment," and wrecan "to punish, drive out" (see wreak). The meaning "damage, disaster, destruction" (in wrack and ruin) is from c.1400, from the Old English word. Sense of "seaweed, etc., cast up on shore" is recorded from 1510s.


"to ruin or wreck" (originally of ships), 1560s, from earlier intransitive sense "to be shipwrecked" (late 15c.), from wrack (n.). Often confused in this sense since 16c. with rack (v.) in the sense of "torture on the rack;" to wrack one's brains is thus erroneous. Related: Wracked; wracking.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with wrack


see under rack
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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