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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
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. 2014.
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Examples from the web for wreak
  • Undiagnosed, the disorder can wreak havoc on relationships and one's self-esteem.
  • Left to take its course, the failure of a big bank can wreak economic havoc.
  • Alien species can wreak havoc in ecosystems that evolved without them by outcompeting-or outright eating-native inhabitants.
  • After a bout of the flu, lingering germs can wreak havoc on the weakened immune system.
  • Instead, these parolees go underground, where they can wreak havoc on the health of the general population.
  • He has also embraced information technologies, which he once feared would wreak economic havoc.
  • Sent to the head teacher's office, she continued to wreak havoc.
  • Jellyfish explosions can also potentially wreak havoc on ecosystems.
  • Not every alien species becomes invasive, but those that do can wreak serious havoc.
  • If you're searching for a way to wreak havoc on an ex-lover or a rotten business partner, look no further than the video above.
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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