wreck havoc or wreak havoc?

  • sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    The use of "wreck" here is a distressingly common error by even native speakers.

    The problem is that usage of "wreak" is rather uncommon in the present tense, except in the fixed expression "wreak havoc" and speakers tend to slip into usage of more familiar words.

    See also: wrought havoc with
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    Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::

    wreak /riːk/vb (transitive)
    • to inflict (vengeance, etc) or to cause (chaos, etc)
    • to express, or gratify (anger, hatred, etc)
    • archaic to take vengeance for
    Etymology: Old English wrecan; related to Old Frisian wreka, Old High German rehhan (German rächen), Old Norse reka, Latin urgēre to push
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    The use of "wreck" here is a distressingly common error by even native speakers...

    I agree. A similar error I've seen even in print is to "wave a requirement" (should be "waive").

    I suspect that eventually both will be considered "acceptable". That does not mean that we should accept it placidly--we should go down fighting.:D
     
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