Words related to wreak

urge (v.)

1550s, from Latin urgere "to press hard, push forward, force, drive, compel, stimulate," perhaps [de Vaan] from a PIE root *urgh- "to tie, bind" (source also of Lithuanian veržti "tie, fasten, squeeze," vargas "need, distress," vergas "slave;" Old Church Slavonic vragu "enemy;" Gothic wrikan "persecute," Old English wrecan "drive, hunt, pursue"), via a notion of "to weigh down on," hence "to insist, impel." The other possibility is that the PIE root is *ureg- "to follow a track." Related: Urged; urging.

wrack (v.)

"to ruin or wreck" (originally of ships), 1560s, from earlier intransitive sense "to be shipwrecked" (late 15c.), from wrack (n.). Often confused in this sense since 16c. with rack (v.1) in the sense of "torture on the rack;" to wrack one's brains is thus erroneous. Related: Wracked; wracking.

rack (n.3)

[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.

wrack (n.)
late 14c., "wrecked ship, shipwreck," probably from Middle Dutch wrak "wreck," from Proto-Germanic *wrakaz-, from root *wreg- "to push, shove, drive" (see wreak). The root sense perhaps is "that which is cast ashore." Sense perhaps influenced by Old English wræc "misery, punishment," and wrecan "to punish, drive out" (source of modern wreak). The meaning "damage, disaster, destruction" (in wrack and ruin) is from c. 1400, from the Old English word, but conformed in spelling to this one. Sense of "seaweed, etc., cast up on shore" is recorded from 1510s, probably an alteration of wreck (n.) in this sense (mid-15c.). Wrack, wreck, rack and wretch were utterly tangled in spelling and somewhat in sense in Middle and early modern English.
wreck (n.)
early 13c., "goods cast ashore after a shipwreck, flotsam," from Anglo-French wrec, from a Scandinavian source akin to Old Norse *wrek "wreck, flotsam" (source also of Norwegian, Icelandic rek), related to reka "to drive, push," from Proto-Germanic *wrekan (see wreak (v.)). The meaning "a shipwreck" is first recorded mid-15c.; that of "a wrecked ship" is by c. 1500. General sense of "remains of anything that has been ruined" is recorded from 1713; applied by 1795 to dissipated persons. Compare wrack (v.).
wretch (n.)
Old English wrecca "wretch, stranger, exile," from Proto-Germanic *wrakjon "pursuer; one pursued" (source also of Old Saxon wrekkio, Old High German reckeo "a banished person, exile," German recke "renowned warrior, hero"), related to Old English wreccan "to drive out, punish" (see wreak). "The contrast in the development of the meaning in Eng. and German is remarkable" [OED]. Sense of "vile, despicable person" developed in Old English, reflecting the sorry state of the outcast, as presented in Anglo-Saxon verse (such as "The Wanderer"). Compare German Elend "misery," from Old High German elilenti "sojourn in a foreign land, exile."