wreck / rek/ • n. the destruction of a ship at sea; a shipwreck: the survivors of the wreck. ∎ a ship destroyed in such a way: the salvaging of treasure from wrecks. ∎ Law goods brought ashore by the sea from a wreck and not claimed by the owner within a specified period (usually a year): the profits of wreck. ∎ something, esp. a vehicle or building, that has been badly damaged or destroyed: the plane was reduced to a smoldering wreck | fig. the wreck of their marriage. ∎ the disorganized remains of something that has suffered damage or destruction. ∎ a road or rail crash: a train wreck. ∎ a person whose physical or mental health or strength has failed: the scandal left the family emotional wrecks.• v. [tr.] (usu. be wrecked) cause the destruction of (a ship) by sinking or breaking up: he was drowned when his ship was wrecked. ∎ involve (someone) in such a wreck: sailors who had the misfortune to be wrecked on these coasts. ∎ [intr.] [usu. as n.] (wrecking) chiefly hist. cause the destruction of a ship in order to steal the cargo: the locals reverted to the age-old practice of wrecking. ∎ [intr.] archaic suffer or undergo shipwreck. ∎ destroy or severely damage (a structure or vehicle): the blast wrecked more than 100 houses. ∎ spoil completely: an eye injury wrecked his chances of a professional career. ∎ [intr.] [usu. as n.] (wrecking) engage in breaking up badly damaged vehicles, demolishing old buildings, or similar activities to obtain usable spares or scrap.
Hence wreck vb. make a wreck OF. XV (cf. AL. wrecāre XII). wreckage wrecking; remains of a wrecked vessel. XIX.