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Friday, 21 October 2011

Stuart's Daily Word Spot: Wreak or wreck?

Wreak or wreck:
Wreak: verb – expel, drive away; express a feeling, especially anger; punish, injure or harm someone; avenge someone; vindicate a cause by an act of retribution; take or inflict vengeance on or upon someone; cause harm, damage, etc., frequently in 'wreak havoc'; deal a blow. (Wreak is often followed by 'on' or 'upon')

Wreck: verb - wash ashore; reduce a structure, vehicle, etc. to a ruined or shattered condition by force or violence; destroy; cause the wreck of a vessel; bring someone to disaster or ruin; cause the ruin or destruction of a system, etc.; severely upset or impair someone's health, nerves, etc.; frustrate, thwart; prevent the passing of a measure; suffer a shipwreck.

These words have no shared etymological origin but often appear to be confused. You can 'wreak havoc' by 'wrecking' something, but they are not the same thing.

'Influenced by the culture of his tribe, Mohammed swore to wreak vengeance on his brother for daring to speak softly to the woman he had decided to wed.'

'George, if you don't stop pounding your sister's doll with your hammer, you're going to wreck it.'

Pic: Venetian fortress on Crete.

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