Old English wrecan "avenge," originally "to drive, drive out, punish" (class V strong verb; past tense wræc, past participle wrecen), from Proto-Germanic *wrekanan (source also of Old Saxon wrekan, Old Norse reka, Old Frisian wreka, Middle Dutch wreken "to drive, push, compel, pursue, throw," Old High German rehhan, German rächen "to avenge," Gothic wrikan "to persecute"), from PIE root *wreg- "to push, shove, drive, track down" (see urge (v.)). Meaning "inflict or take vengeance," with on, is recorded from late 15c.; that of "inflict or cause (damage or destruction)" is attested from 1817. Compare wrack (v.). Related: Wreaked; wreaking.
[clouds driven before the wind], c. 1300, rak, "movement, rapid movement," also "rush of wind, collision, crash," originally a northern word, possibly from Old English racu "cloud, storm" (or an unrecorded Scandinavian cognate of it), reinforced by Old Norse rek, *rak "wreckage, jetsam," or Old English wræc "something driven," both of which would be from Proto-Germanic *wrakaz, from PIE root *wreg- "to push, shove, drive" (see urge (v.)).
From late 14c. as "rain cloud." Often confused with wrack (n.) "destruction," especially in the phrase rack and ruin (1590s), which perhaps is encouraged in that case by the visual alliteration. Rack is "fragments of raggy clouds;" wrack is, in its secondary sense, "seaweed cast up on shore." Both probably come, ultimately, from the same PIE root, as does wreak.
1957, trademark registered 1959 by Wham-O Company; the prototype was modeled on pie tins from Mrs. Frisbie's Pies, made by the Frisbie Bakery of Bridgeport, Connecticut, U.S. Middlebury College students began tossing them around in the 1930s (though Yale and Princeton also claim to have discovered their aerodynamic qualities).
Thirteen years ago the Wham-O Manufacturing Company of San Gabriel, Calif., ... brought out the first Frisbee. Wham-O purchased the rights from a Los Angeles building inspector named Fred Morrison, who in turn had been inspired by the airworthy pie tins of the Frisbie Bakery in Bridgeport, Conn. (which went out of business in March of 1958). He changed the spelling to avoid legal problems. [Sports Illustrated, Aug. 3, 1970]
The family name is attested in English records from 1226, from a place name in Leicestershire (Frisby on the Wreak), attested from 1086, from Old Danish, meaning "farmstead or village of the Frisians" (Old Norse Frisa, genitive plural of Frisr; see Frisian). Also see by (prep.).