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wreak

[reek] /rik/
verb (used with object)
1.
to inflict or execute (punishment, vengeance, etc.):
They wreaked havoc on the enemy.
2.
to carry out the promptings of (one's rage, ill humor, will, desire, etc.), as on a victim or object:
He wreaked his anger on the office staff.
Origin of wreak
900
before 900; Middle English wreken, Old English wrecan; cognate with German rächen to avenge, Old Norse reka to drive, avenge, Gothic wrikan to persecute; akin to Latin urgēre to drive, push
Related forms
wreaker, noun
Can be confused
rack, wrack, wreak, wreck.
racked, wracked, wreaked, wrecked.
Synonyms
1. visit, vent, unleash.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for wreak
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Though you should vouchsafe to wreak your utmost wrath upon my innocent head, I can do nothing else.

  • It had gripped savagely hold of him and was about to wreak upon him some terrific hurt.

    White Fang Jack London
  • Velasquez was now determined to wreak his revenge upon Corts without waiting longer for assistance from Spain.

  • Roderic was inflamed with anger and disgust; but he had none, upon whom to wreak his revenge.

    Imogen William Godwin
  • But the forces of reaction were preparing to wreak terrible vengeance upon the prisoner for his endeavor to throw off his bonds.

British Dictionary definitions for wreak

wreak

/riːk/
verb (transitive)
1.
to inflict (vengeance, etc) or to cause (chaos, etc): to wreak havoc on the enemy
2.
to express, or gratify (anger, hatred, etc)
3.
(archaic) to take vengeance for
Derived Forms
wreaker, noun
Word Origin
Old English wrecan; related to Old Frisian wreka, Old High German rehhan (German rächen), Old Norse reka, Latin urgēre to push
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 wreak
v.

Old English wrecan "avenge," originally "to drive, drive out, punish" (class V strong verb; past tense wræc, past participle wrecen), from Proto-Germanic *wrekanan (cf. Old Saxon wrekan, Old Norse reka, Old Frisian wreka, Middle Dutch wreken "to drive, push, compel, pursue, throw," Old High German rehhan, German rächen "to avenge," Gothic wrikan "to persecute"), from PIE root *werg- "to work, to do" (cf. Lithuanian vergas "distress," vergas "slave;" Old Church Slavonic vragu "enemy;" Latin urgere; see urge (v.)). Meaning "inflict or take vengeance," with on, is recorded from late 15c.; that of "inflict or cause (damage or destruction)" is attested from 1817.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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