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wrecker

[rek-er] /ˈrɛk ər/
noun
1.
a person or thing that wrecks.
2.
a person, car, or train employed in removing wreckage, debris, etc., as from railroad tracks.
3.
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.
4.
Also called housewrecker. a person whose business it is to demolish and remove houses or other buildings, as in clearing sites for other use.
5.
a person or vessel employed in recovering salvage from wrecked or disabled vessels.
6.
a person who plunders wrecks, especially after exhibiting false signals in order to cause shipwrecks.
Origin of wrecker
1795-1805
1795-1805; wreck + -er1
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for wrecker

wrecker

/ˈrɛkə/
noun
1.
a person or thing that ruins or destroys
2.
(mainly US & Canadian) a person whose job is to demolish buildings or dismantle cars
3.
(formerly) a person who lures ships to destruction to plunder the wreckage
4.
(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
n.

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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16
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