To wreak is to cause something to happen, usually with a terrible consequence. You can make mischief, cause problems, or inflict pain, but to wreak damage suggests a deeper level of destruction.

Wreak stems from the Old English wrecan, meaning "to avenge." Its current meaning, that of causing something to happen — usually with dire consequences — came about in the 19th century. The word is a transitive verb, often paired with the equally intense havoc, meaning "devastation."

Definitions of wreak
  1. verb
    cause to happen or to occur as a consequence
    wreak havoc”
    synonyms: bring, make for, play, work
    act, work
    have an effect or outcome; often the one desired or expected
    see moresee less
    type of:
    create, make
    make or cause to be or to become
Commonly confused words

wreck / wreak / reek

What happens when wild chimpanzees go to a party? They wreck the furniture, wreak havoc, and make the whole house reek. To wreck is to ruin something, to wreak is to cause something to happen, and to reek is to smell bad.

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