Word Origin & History
O.E. wrecan "avenge," originally "to drive, drive out, punish" (class V strong verb; past tense wræc, pp. wrecen), from P.Gmc. *wrekanan (cf. O.S. wrekan, O.N. reka, O.Fris. wreka, M.Du. wreken "to drive, push, compel, pursue, throw," O.H.G. rehhan, Ger. rächen "to avenge," Goth. wrikan "to
persecute"), from PIE base *werg- "to work, to do" (cf. Lith. vergas "distress," vergas "slave," O.C.S. vragu "enemy," L. urgere; see urge
(v.)). Meaning "inflict or take vengeance," with on, is recorded from c.1489; that of "inflict or cause (damage or destruction)" is attested from 1817.