Definitions

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

  • n. Destruction or ruin.
  • n. A remnant or vestige of something destroyed.
  • n. Wreckage, especially of a ship cast ashore.
  • n. Chiefly British Violent destruction of a building or vehicle.
  • n. Dried seaweed.
  • n. Marine vegetation, especially kelp.
  • transitive v. To cause the ruin of; wreck.
  • intransitive v. To be wrecked.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

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

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

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

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old English wræc, punishment (influenced by Middle Dutch wrak, shipwreck).
Middle English wrak, from Middle Dutch.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old English wræc. (Wiktionary)
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"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • 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

  • 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

  • I racked my brain (Though the phrase wrack your brain is in common usage, rack is the original form.

    Archive 2008-03-01

  • Our faces were concealed by the "wrack" that covered the stones; and the

    The Scalp Hunters

Comments

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

    February 13, 2012