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[reek] /rik/
verb (used with object)
to inflict or execute (punishment, vengeance, etc.):
They wreaked havoc on the enemy.
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
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.
1. visit, vent, unleash. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for wreaker
Historical Examples
  • Full she drad that God the wreaker all mankind would fordo with water for his evil sins.

    Ulysses James Joyce
British Dictionary definitions for wreaker


verb (transitive)
to inflict (vengeance, etc) or to cause (chaos, etc): to wreak havoc on the enemy
to express, or gratify (anger, hatred, etc)
(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 wreaker



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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