Definition of wreak in English:

wreak

verb

[WITH OBJECT]
  • 1 Cause (a large amount of damage or harm)

    ‘torrential rainstorms wreaked havoc yesterday’
    ‘the environmental damage wreaked by ninety years of phosphate mining’
    • ‘The hurricane wreaked terrible damage on the east coast, at Miami and the Florida Keys.’
    • ‘During the next few months, previously unequalled damage was wreaked upon the site.’
    • ‘But when the first human settlers, the Maoris, arrived about a thousand years ago, the rats and dogs they brought with them wreaked havoc on the islands' wildlife.’
    • ‘The quake hit at about 7:45 pm on Wednesday, wreaking the worst damage in towns near Thenia, 40 miles east of Algiers, the capital.’
    • ‘Rains in February wreaked havoc over large areas of the southern region of the North Island, costing millions of dollars and more than 1,000 head of cattle.’
    • ‘Welch justifiably observes that this dredging is a massive and expensive undertaking that will perhaps wreak more environmental damage than leaving the river at rest.’
    • ‘The Category 5 storm wreaked havoc, doing more than $20 billion in damage and making it by far the costliest hurricane ever in United States history.’
    • ‘It is 1969, and a cloistered block in west Philadelphia is shaken to its core by long kept secrets, betrayal and lies that wreak terrible damage on two families.’
    • ‘Residents across county Carlow woke yesterday morning to find roads completely impassable, as drifting snow wreaked havoc on routes across the region.’
    • ‘It is clear both sides are hoping to fight a similar war: swift and based on short, focused operations that will wreak maximum damage in the shortest possible time, with minimum casualties.’
    • ‘According to Mary Bryan, the society's chief executive officer, even seemingly small mistakes can wreak huge amounts of damage.’
    • ‘A firestorm wreaks its terrifying damage on an estate.’
    • ‘The American signal crayfish were introduced in the 1970s to meet the demands of the restaurant trade but have since escaped into the wild to wreak huge damage on local eco-systems.’
    • ‘Then, by one o'clock, the storm moved off to wreak damage in the north.’
    • ‘The adverse weather has wreaked havoc with many of the non-national routes and damage has run into hundreds of thousands of pounds.’
    • ‘Many in the natural sciences think that we are at a threshold of either adapting our living to the constraints of nature or wreaking incredible damage to Earth as we destroy ourselves.’
    • ‘On the heels of the longest bull run in history, last year's down market wreaked havoc at many financial services firms.’
    • ‘It might as well have been a million miles away from Stark's Park, where a strong swirling wind wreaked havoc on any attempts at finesse, and regularly carried players' frustrated words into the stands.’
    • ‘Online lotteries, by their aggressive marketing techniques, had wreaked havoc on many families, especially those of daily-wage earners.’
    • ‘They're among the world's tiniest creatures, but they're wreaking enormous damage across northern Australia.’
    inflict, create, cause, result in, effect, engender, bring about, perpetrate, unleash, vent, bestow, deal out, mete out, serve out, administer, carry out, deliver, apply, lay on, impose, exact
    effectuate
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Inflict (vengeance)
      ‘he was determined to wreak his revenge on the girl who had rejected him’
      • ‘I'm not trying to say that these semi-musical melodies bother me, just that they will provide me with the ultimate way to wreak my vengeance upon all of you who disrupt my lectures.’
      • ‘Typically in a robot film, the script eventually calls for the obliging machine to override its software program and run amok, wreaking vengeance on its masters.’
      • ‘On her release, she promptly drops her virtuous facade, dons the red eye shadow and sets about finding Baek and wreaking her vengeance.’
      • ‘I'd criticized him for showing mercy and compassion where I would have wreaked a devastating vengeance.’
      • ‘Down I rode from the Black Sea steppe to wreak vengeance on the men of Athens.’
      • ‘It is blatantly unethical to wreak vengeance upon innocent bystanders.’
      • ‘But instead of wreaking his revenge on her, he falls in love with her.’
      • ‘I think he was embarrassed by being thrown out and sought to wreak revenge.’
      • ‘There is, however, an equally strong risk that these responses may be misused and manipulated towards the perceived need to wreak vengeance.’
      • ‘Before the fight, Ward made it clear this would be his final bout, so he had every motivation to wreak vengeance on Gatti and end his career a winner.’
      • ‘It would be a sin to wreak vengeance on the innocent, but it would be a temptation very tough to control.’
      • ‘In the back of his mind, he believes he may corner Laeddis and wreak his vengeance on the man who caused the death of the most important person in his life.’
      • ‘And David O'Brien's father thinks Maria is the ghost of the mythical Dubhana, come back to wreak vengeance on him.’
      • ‘Whoever praised Frederick within the borders of his realm did so from necessity, to evade the indignation of a prince who wreaked stern vengeance upon every foe.’
      • ‘And so, whatever happens, let's hope we're not going to have an administration that is set up to somehow wreak vengeance on the other side.’
      • ‘The scene in which the ruined, now dissolute Robinson finally wreaks vengeance - quite by accident - is unforgettable.’
      • ‘If Brown-Lee decides to wreak vengeance on me for sending him nasty looks across the dinner table, I might need your assistance.’
      • ‘A natural urge in newly freed countries is to wreak vengeance on, or at least deny continued privileges to, the oppressors of the previous regime.’
      • ‘Thus begins an adventure in which Measle finds friends, braves dangers, wreaks vengeance and discovers a happy ending.’
      • ‘On such an account, Oakes finds he is not as generously treated in the book as he might like, and consequently wreaks some vengeance.’
    2. 1.2archaic Avenge (someone who has been wronged)
      ‘grant me some knight to wreak me for my son’
      • ‘Harenc wreaked him with a vengeance.’

Usage

The phrase wrought havoc, as in they wrought havoc on the countryside, is an acceptable variant of wreaked havoc. Here, wrought is an archaic past tense of work. It is not, as is sometimes assumed, a past tense of wreak

Origin

Old English wrecan drive (out), avenge of Germanic origin; related to Dutch wreken and German rächen; compare with wrack, wreck, and wretch.

Pronunciation:

wreak

/rēk/