mid 16th century: of unknown origin
The words rack and wrack are often confused. When used as a noun, rack is always spelled with an r (a magazine rack). The verb can be spelled rack or wrack, but only when it means 'cause great pain to someone' (he was racked/wracked with guilt): the meanings 'put something in a rack' or 'accumulate something' should always be spelled rack (she racked up high telephone bills). In the phrase rack and ruin, both rack and wrack are acceptable.