When their parents went away for a day, the teenage sons invited their friends over and wreaked havoc in the house. They dirtied the living area and wrecked the furniture. When the parents were back, the house reeked of sweat and fuzzy drinks.

Wreak and reek are homophones so they sound exactly the same and can rhyme with tweak. Wreck however, has a slightly different pronunciation and can be made to rhyme with heck. ‘Wreaked havoc’ is a very common phrase and you’ve probably heard it in the news. Wreak is a verb which means to cause something and when paired with havoc it means to cause a lot of destruction or trouble. Reek, on the other hand, refers to a foul odor and can be used as a verb or a noun. As with wreck, it means to ruin and destroy. Hence, most people end up mixing up the phrase wreak havoc and wreck because both of these involve destroying. Enough about destruction, let’s look at what each of these terms entail.

Wreck vs wreak vs reek – definitions, meanings, example sentences

Definition of wreck

The verb wreck means to destroy. After something has been destroyed, the remains are referred to as the noun wreck.

Sentences of wreck

  • Wreck as a verb:
    ‘The museum features wrecked fighter jets that were used in fighting during the wars so you would enjoy inspecting them,’ Mum convinced him.

This is part of a family’s conversation who were deciding to go on a trip but couldn’t pick out a location. Mum tried to convince her son by suggesting a museum that displayed worn-out jets that were used in wars. His son, who was reluctant to go anywhere, was convinced in an instant.

  • Wreck as a noun:
    She’s a wreck after her parents died.

This sentence shows that wreck is not only used for objects but people as well. Furthermore, it can be used to denote abstract things like imagination or mental state. The sentence above describes a woman who was in a devastated emotional state after her parents had died.

  • Wreck as a verb:
    ‘Okay, you can have my car for the weekend but don’t wreck it,’ Dad smiled.

A son convinced his dad to give him his car for the weekend. Since his dad was pretty touchy about his car he warned that he should avoid damaging it by all means.

Definition of wreak

The verb wreak means to bring about or inflict. Wreak is used with negative words that circle around some sort of harm. The most common use of this word is paired with ‘havoc’. Nevertheless, it can also be paired with other terms like destruction, rage or vengeance. It is important to note that wreak doesn’t always refer to physical harm. A blackmailer can wreak havoc on your emotions.

Example sentences of wreak

  • Sudden avalanches continue to wreak havoc on people living in the Baluchistan and Azad Kashmir regions of Pakistan. Only recently, two avalanches hit the Neelam valley located in Azad Kashmir and forty people died.

This sentence recounts news from the year 2021. Baluchistan and Azad Kashmir areas of Pakistan are characterized by not only irregular terrain or intense snow, but avalanches as well. Avalanches or landslides continue to have adverse impact on Pakistanis since many people get buried to their death.

  • The brutal slaughtering of their tribesmen wreaked havoc on their lives so they eventually migrated to a different city.

A certain tribe was being mercilessly killed. The wrongdoers disrupted their lives and drove them away.

  • After hearing the news he wreaked his rage on the shelf lined with ornaments. With vigorous beast-like movements of his hands, he shoved the entire glass piece down. All the miniature decorations lay shattered on the floor.

The sentence describes a man who lost his temper after he heard some bad news. He heaved down the glass shelf that was in front of him. All the glass ornaments split into pieces in an instant.

Definition of reek

Reek is a verb that means to give off an unbearably bad smell. Someone who is giving off this awful stench is ‘reeking.’ As a noun, reek refers to an unpleasant stench. At times, it can also denote smoke or vapor. You might have noticed reek being used for abstract things like vibes and energy. When someone reeks of negativity, they basically have negative vibes or an air of negativity around them.

Example sentences of reek

  • Reek as a verb:
    The runner-up postponed the final round by acting as though she was injured, she reeked of jealousy.

Reek doesn’t have a literal meaning here, instead it refers to an abstract noun – jealousy. A competition was going on where the runner-up staged her injury. She did that because she saw that her chances for winning were thin. Her devious act showed that she was jealous of the top performer.

  • Reek as a verb:
    The cabin reeked of decay and fungal growth so the investigators concluded that it had been abandoned a long time ago.

A team of spies were investigating a cabin. The smell of decaying plants and fungal growth showed that the place wasn’t inhabited by anyone.

  • Reek as a verb:
    The day the mistress and owner of the home died, all the thirteen servants had been sent off on vacations including the butler. This whole scenario reeks of conspiracy.

Obviously, such an occasion couldn’t have happened by coincidence. A murder had taken place and all the servants had been absent, no evidence was left behind and the criminal was untraceable. The whole situation seems like an insidious plot.

  • Reek as a noun:
    A terrible reek coming from next door nauseated me.

Reek is used in its literal sense here. An awful smell that emanated from the neighbor’s house made the communicator nauseous.

Memorizing all of the terms mentioned above might feel like a daunting task. We’ve got the right tip to help you memorize them in an instant. ‘Wreck’ has a ‘c’ in it and c is for ‘crash.’ Pair wreck with its synonym crash. ‘Wreak’ has an ‘a’ in it, if you associate a with agony then you can remember that wreak is used for anything that causes agony. And finally ‘reek’ starts with an ‘r’ and r is for ‘rotten,’ hence anything rotten reeks.