Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Destruction or ruin. Used chiefly in the phrase wrack and ruin.
  • idiom (wrack (one's) brains/brain) To try hard to remember or think of something.
  • noun Wreckage, especially of a ship cast ashore.
  • noun Chiefly British Violent destruction of a building or vehicle.
  • noun Seaweed that has been cast ashore or dried.
  • noun Any of various brown algae, especially rockweed or kelp.
  • intransitive verb To cause the ruin of; wreck.
  • intransitive verb To be wrecked.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To destroy; make shipwreck of; wreck.
  • An obsolete misspelling of rack.
  • noun That which is cast ashore by the waves.
  • noun The destruction of a ship by winds or rocks or by the force of the waves; shipwreck. See wreck.
  • noun Destruction; ruin.
  • noun A variant of rack.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun obsolete Wreck; ruin; destruction.
  • noun Any marine vegetation cast up on the shore, especially plants of the genera Fucus, Laminaria, and Zostera, which are most abundant on northern shores.
  • noun (Bot.) Coarse seaweed of any kind.
  • noun (Bot.) eelgrass.
  • transitive verb obsolete To wreck.
  • noun A thin, flying cloud; a rack.
  • transitive verb rare To rack; to torment.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun archaic or literary revenge, persecution
  • noun archaic, except in dialects ruin, destruction
  • noun the remains; a wreck
  • noun archaic remnant from a shipwreck as washed ashore, or the right to claim such items
  • noun any marine vegetation cast up on shore, especially seaweed of the genus Fucus
  • noun weeds, vegetation or rubbish floating on a river or pond
  • noun A high, flying clouds; a rack
  • verb transitive to wreck, especially a ship (usually in passive)
  • verb Alternative form of rack, to cause to suffer pain etc.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun the destruction or collapse of something
  • noun dried seaweed especially that cast ashore
  • noun growth of marine vegetation especially of the large forms such as rockweeds and kelp
  • verb smash or break forcefully

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old English wræc, punishment (influenced by Middle Dutch wrak, shipwreck).]

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Influenced by wrack.]

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English wrak, from Middle Dutch.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old English wræc.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle Dutch (and Dutch) wrak (cognate with German Wrack, Old Norse rek, Danish vrag, Swedish vrak, Old English wræc). Compare Gothic 𐍅𐍂𐌹𐌺𐌰𐌽 (wrikan), 𐍅𐍂𐌰𐌺𐌾𐌰𐌽 (wrakjan, "persecute"), Old Norse reka ("drive").

Examples

  • Wrack as a noun generally is confined to the phrase wrack and ruin.

    Essential Guide to Business Style and Usage

  • Wrack as a noun generally is confined to the phrase wrack and ruin.

    Essential Guide to Business Style and Usage

  • I think it's called wrack line because "wrack" is another name for marine vegetation -- a lot of seaweeds have wrack in the name -- but it may also come from wrack as in remnants of wreckage and destruction as in "gone to wrack and ruin."

    vast planet

  • Mr. RAPER sought an assurance that no "wrack" -- which appears to be a term of art in the timber trade -- should be used in the houses to be erected under the Government's new housing scheme.

    Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 156, March 5, 1919

  • Where the glen lies a’ in wrack, wi’ the houses toom and black,

    Matthew Yglesias » The Things People Say

  • This rack is however a variant of the now defunct word wrack, more usually known to us now as wreck.

    pojken Diary Entry

  • BTW, in this case I mean "wrack" literally -- a lot of the seaweed was bladder wrack.

    Archive 2009-08-01

  • BTW, in this case I mean "wrack" literally -- a lot of the seaweed was bladder wrack.

    fall

  • But next year's turmoil is always lurking around the corner -- and every generation will get a chance to experience some kind of wrack and roll.

    Boing Boing

  • Not since the Civil War have American cities been subject to the kind of wrack and ruin that total war causes and, of course, no one alive today remembers the Civil War today so Americans have a sanitized view of war (Canadians too, I might add).

    perspective

Comments

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  • Wrack and ruin, but rack one’s brains.

    February 13, 2012