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[rek-er] /ˈrɛk ər/
a person or thing that wrecks.
a person, car, or train employed in removing wreckage, debris, etc., as from railroad tracks.
Also called tow car, tow truck. a vehicle equipped with a mechanical apparatus for hoisting and pulling, used to tow wrecked, disabled, or stalled automobiles.
Also called housewrecker. a person whose business it is to demolish and remove houses or other buildings, as in clearing sites for other use.
a person or vessel employed in recovering salvage from wrecked or disabled vessels.
a person who plunders wrecks, especially after exhibiting false signals in order to cause shipwrecks.
Origin of wrecker
1795-1805; wreck + -er1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for wrecker
Historical Examples
  • The shore-side wrecker lords were always considered fair game, and there was no finesse in Rover raids upon them.

    Key Out of Time Andre Alice Norton
  • "That's what I'm trying to tell you," went on wrecker calmly.

  • As our vessel was not noted for fast sailing, we accepted an invitation to go on board of a wrecker.

  • Then Dick talked in whispers with wrecker for a few moments.

  • Then we boarded the wrecker to be distributed along the line.

    The Trail of the Tramp A-No. 1 (AKA Leon Ray Livingston)
  • You mean become a smuggler, a wrecker, and a general law-breaker.

    The Birthright Joseph Hocking
  • Krantzer had sense enough to order out the wrecker, and send for me.

    Danger Signals John A. Hill and Jasper Ewing Brady
  • There was a struggle, none the less desperate because the wrecker was underneath.

  • Plug in the round-house for the wrecker—and tell them to send uptown for the crew.

  • Why should I talk like that about a man who has the character of being a wrecker as well as a smuggler?

    The Lost Middy George Manville Fenn
British Dictionary definitions for wrecker


a person or thing that ruins or destroys
(mainly US & Canadian) a person whose job is to demolish buildings or dismantle cars
(formerly) a person who lures ships to destruction to plunder the wreckage
(US & Canadian) another word for tow truck
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 wrecker

1804, in reference to those who salvage cargos from wrecked ships, from wreck (n.). In Britain often with a overtones of "one who causes a shipwreck in order to plunder it" (1820); but in 19c. Bahamas and the Florida Keys it could be a legal occupation. Applied to those who wreck and plunder institutions from 1882. Meaning "demolition worker" attested by 1958. As a type of ship employed in salvage operations, from 1789. As a railway vehicle with a crane or hoist, from 1904.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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