- the destruction or loss of a ship, as by sinking.
- the remains of a wrecked ship.
- destruction or ruin: the shipwreck of one’s hopes.
verb (used with object)
- to cause to suffer shipwreck.
- to destroy; ruin.
verb (used without object)
- to suffer shipwreck.
- the partial or total destruction of a ship at sea
- a wrecked ship or part of such a ship
- ruin or destructionthe shipwreck of all my hopes
- to wreck or destroy (a ship)
- to bring to ruin or destruction
mid-15c., from ship (n.) + wreck (n.). Earlier it meant “things cast up from a shipwreck” (c.1100). The earlier word for “shipwreck” in the modern sense was Middle English schipbreke, “‘ship-break,'” from a North Sea Germanic word, cf. West Frisian skipbrek, Middle Dutch schipbroke, German Schiffbruch, Old English scipgebroc. Old English scipbryce meant “right to claim goods from a wrecked ship.”
1580s, “cause to wreck;” c.1600, “to suffer shipwreck,” from shipwreck (n.). Related: Shipwrecked.