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.).