Definition of wreak in English:

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Pronunciation: /rēk/


[with object]
1Cause (a large amount of damage or harm): torrential rainstorms wreaked havoc yesterday the environmental damage wreaked by ninety years of phosphate mining
More example sentences
  • According to Mary Bryan, the society's chief executive officer, even seemingly small mistakes can wreak huge amounts of damage.
  • The adverse weather has wreaked havoc with many of the non-national routes and damage has run into hundreds of thousands of pounds.
  • The Category 5 storm wreaked havoc, doing more than $20 billion in damage and making it by far the costliest hurricane ever in United States history.
inflict, bestow, mete out, administer, deliver, impose, exact, create, cause, result in, effect, engender, bring about, perpetrate, unleash, let loose, vent
formal effectuate
1.1Inflict (vengeance): he was determined to wreak his revenge on the girl who had rejected him
More example sentences
  • And so, whatever happens, let's hope we're not going to have an administration that is set up to somehow wreak vengeance on the other side.
  • On such an account, Oakes finds he is not as generously treated in the book as he might like, and consequently wreaks some vengeance.
  • Thus begins an adventure in which Measle finds friends, braves dangers, wreaks vengeance and discovers a happy ending.
1.2 archaic Avenge (someone who has been wronged): grant me some knight to wreak me for my son
More example sentences
  • Harenc wreaked him with a vengeance.


The phrase wrought havoc, as in they wrought havoc on the countryside, is an acceptable variant of wreaked havoc. Here, wrought is an archaic past tense of work. It is not, as is sometimes assumed, a past tense of wreak.



Example sentences
  • The case of Bouzaglo, for example, offers a chance to examine the model of the wreaker of virtual mayhem.
  • There's more than a trace of Margo in Jules, the lying, desperate marriage wreaker of My Best Friend's Wedding.
  • I guess there's something radical about wreaking havoc in a factory - but who can watch this film and not root for the wreaker?


Old English wrecan 'drive (out), avenge', of Germanic origin; related to Dutch wreken and German rächen; compare with wrack4, wreck, and wretch.

  • wreck from Middle English:

    When it first appeared wreck meant ‘cargo or wreckage washed ashore from a wrecked or stranded vessel’. The word came into English from Old French wrec. The source was an Old Norse word meaning ‘to drive’ that was related to wreak, ‘to cause a lot of damage or harm’, and to rack. A person in a state of stress or emotional exhaustion has been a wreck since the 1790s and a nervous wreck since about 1870. Wretch (Old English) and wretched (Middle English) are related to wreak.

Words that rhyme with wreak

antique, batik, beak, bespeak, bezique, bleak, boutique, cacique, caïque, cheek, chic, clique, creak, creek, critique, Dominique, eke, freak, geek, Greek, hide-and-seek, keek, Lalique, leak, leek, Martinique, meek, midweek, Mozambique, Mustique, mystique, oblique, opéra comique, ortanique, peak, Peake, peek, physique, pique, pratique, reek, seek, shriek, Sikh, sleek, sneak, speak, Speke, squeak, streak, teak, technique, tongue-in-cheek, tweak, unique, veronique, weak, week

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: wreak

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