Definition of shipwreck in English:



  • 1The destruction of a ship at sea by sinking or breaking up, for example in a storm or after striking a rock.

    ‘these islands have a history of shipwrecks and smuggling’
    [mass noun] ‘the angry waves, whose fury heralds shipwreck’
    figurative ‘by rejecting conscience, they have made a shipwreck of their faith’
    • ‘In several previous shipwrecks sailors have been driven to cannibalism.’
    • ‘The story is of the utmost simplicity: after a shipwreck, a sailor is lost at sea.’
    • ‘It originally referred to someone who deliberately caused shipwrecks by using false beacons to lure ships onto rocks, or someone who plundered goods from wrecked ships.’
    • ‘In 1675, however, the Caribs welcomed black Africans who survived the shipwreck of a Dutch ship carrying settlers and slaves.’
    • ‘The Sussex coast at this point lacks any rocks or cliffs, and shipwrecks were never common here.’
    • ‘Most major human disasters - nuclear accidents, shipwrecks and train crashes - have occurred because of a lack of it.’
    • ‘Some say St Patrick himself built the chapel after surviving a shipwreck on the rocks below.’
    • ‘Turner lashed himself to masts in order to witness the fury of storms at sea, and he was fascinated by shipwrecks.’
    • ‘According to one legend, the ponies on this 37-mile-long barrier island are descendants of horses that survived the shipwreck of a Spanish galleon.’
    • ‘Impetuous storms and violent shipwrecks occur at sea.’
    • ‘The annals of the marine record no example of a shipwreck so terrible as that of the Medusa frigate.’
    • ‘There have been shipwrecks here, for as long as there has been shipping.’
    • ‘The Prestige broke up about 150 miles off the Coast of Death - so named because of the frequency of shipwrecks - after running into trouble during a storm.’
    • ‘Most of these shipwrecks came about by collision, by storm, or by bad navigation.’
    • ‘For Virilio, to invent the ship is to invent the shipwreck and to invent the train is to invent the derailment.’
    • ‘On the way, a great windstorm causes a shipwreck and a lone sailor is found on the ‘Island of the Soul.’’
    • ‘It is a fable recalled by a lonely man who lies between the clumps of grass on the sands by a river (the scene looks deceptively lyrical), like a survivor washed ashore after a shipwreck.’
    • ‘Rather than causing shipwrecks, the little mermaid saves the life of a shipwrecked prince, then makes a bargain with the sea-witch, exchanging her tongue for a pair of human legs.’
    • ‘Property insurance developed in response to the hazards faced by medieval exporters, for example losses from shipwreck, piracy, or theft.’
    • ‘With the help of his faithful spirit Ariel, Prospero conjures up a great storm causing a shipwreck on the shore nearby.’
    wreck, shipwreck, ruin, shell, skeleton, hull, frame, framework, derelict
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    1. 1.1A ship so destroyed.
      ‘the detritus of a forgotten shipwreck’
      • ‘The agency stress that it is illegal to keep something, however small or seemingly insignificant, from a shipwreck without advising the Receiver of Wreck.’
      • ‘The Museum houses an impressive collection of artefacts and pictures relating to many famous ships and shipwrecks.’
      • ‘Various environmental forces eventually break down shipwrecks, but Ballard suspects more than natural forces are at work in this case.’
      • ‘Widely regarded as the Mount Everest of diveable shipwrecks is the ocean liner HMHS Britannic.’
      • ‘Each summer there is a one- or two-week field trip to survey historical shipwrecks and the submerged (but once-dry) coastline of the Solent.’
      • ‘There were a record number of entries from yellow submarines, tall ships, small ships, rafts, sea serpents, to shipwrecks and fishing boats and lots more besides.’
      • ‘The Heritage Office has released a shipwreck conservation management plan that documents the discovery of the submarine.’
      • ‘The dig, which began Monday, was a second priority for the divers, whose main goal was to survey the shipwreck site for storm damage.’
      • ‘Our tour of Corsica ends at Bastia, which has several shipwrecks and a number of aircraft wrecks.’
      • ‘Here, you can explore untouched reefs and many shipwrecks.’
      • ‘Besides the reef, the Keys are full of accidental and manmade shipwrecks to dive on.’
      • ‘The World Heritage area includes Aboriginal middens and sacred sites as well as historical shipwrecks and ruins of early European settlement.’
      • ‘The centre can arrange licences to dive on the two designated historic shipwrecks in the Sound of Mull, the Dartmouth and the Swan.’
      • ‘To find out why this happened and when we must go back to the thirteenth history and a shipwreck off the Wexford coast.’
      • ‘I was an avid wreck diver, and it was the ultimate shipwreck.’
      • ‘Unesco has adopted a new cultural convention to protect historic shipwrecks and underwater artefacts from pillaging.’
      • ‘There, two old keys made of gold and silver are exhibited in a window as part of the treasure of historical information salvaged from a local shipwreck.’
      • ‘Scuba divers and snorkelers explore historic shipwrecks and artificial reefs.’
      • ‘The irony is that every time someone finds and salvages an old shipwreck, archaeologists scream their heads off and accuse the divers and salvors of looting and obliterating an underwater site.’
      • ‘With a treacherous shoreline and marine traffic for many thousands of years, the coast of Ireland is strewn with shipwrecks, or sites where vessels have foundered.’


  • (of a person or ship) suffer a shipwreck.

    ‘the English envoy was shipwrecked off the coast of Sardinia and nearly drowned’
    ‘she found herself clinging to the kitchen cabinet like a shipwrecked mariner to a rock’
    • ‘After a five-year apprenticeship in a small grocer's shop he set sail for Columbia in November 1841, but was shipwrecked off the coast of Holland.’
    • ‘Off the Kent coast shipwrecked seamen managed to find a foothold don the Goodwin Sands, but they knew the rising sea would drown them if they were not taken off.’
    • ‘It was on such a ship that St Paul reached Italy after having been shipwrecked on Malta.’
    • ‘An ideal young boy's yarn about the earnest young English couple shipwrecked off the coast of Darkest Africa.’
    • ‘In Book I, his ship is blown off course and Gulliver is shipwrecked.’
    • ‘It was here, in AD60, that the Apostle St Paul was rumoured to have lived whilst shipwrecked.’
    • ‘Accounts written by other mariners shipwrecked along the same coast chronicled brutal enslavement at the hands of ruthless desert nomads.’
    • ‘During the 17th and 18th centuries, there were other mariners shipwrecked or abandoned and subsequently rescued.’
    • ‘Today the morality tale of this York shipwrecked mariner is republished as ‘classic summer reading’.’
    • ‘By the end of the novel he is spiritually shipwrecked on the Gold Coast, having visions of ancient goddesses.’
    • ‘Viola is shipwrecked off the coast of Illyria and, separated from her twin Sebastian, believes him drowned.’
    • ‘William's claim was strengthened when Harold, shipwrecked on the coast of Normandy, promise to support William's claim - albeit under some duress.’
    • ‘On his return from a visit to the Holy Land in about the year 667 he was shipwrecked off Taranto, where he landed and began to minister.’
    • ‘They took their name from the piece of equipment which was used in the 19th century to rescue shipwrecked vessels.’
    • ‘Far from being shipwrecked on the coast at St Andrew's, the saint almost certainly made his appearance in Scotland within a bag carried by Acca, an abbot from the North of England.’
    • ‘In 1064, Harold was shipwrecked on the coast of Ponthieu.’
    • ‘In 1609, a group of British colonists led by Sir George Somers was shipwrecked and stranded on the islands for 10 months.’
    • ‘In 1528 a Spanish exploration party leaving from Mexico became shipwrecked off the coast of Florida.’
    • ‘Dashed upon a bleak, inhospitable and unfortunately uninhabited shore, the five shipwrecked souls were faced with extinction if not rescued.’
    • ‘A poor Jamaican fisherman was shipwrecked on a desert island.’
    foundered, ashore, beached, grounded, stuck, shipwrecked, wrecked, high and dry, on the rocks, on the bottom, on the ground
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