Tag Archive - Wreck vs. Wreak

Wreaking Havoc

I don’t mean to wreak havoc on your life, but here’s a set of confusing words that you need to know before you wreck someone else’s life—or your prose.

Wreak and reek are homonyms—they sound the same but have oh-so-different spellings and meanings.

Reek is a verb that means to give off a strong or offensive odor.

  • My clothes reeked after spending an evening in a smoke-filled pub.

Wreak is also a verb. It means to inflict or cause damage, harm, or punishment.

  • Hurricane Katrina wreaked billions of dollars in damages all along the Gulf Coast.

Both reek and wreak are regular verbs, adding ed (reeked, wreaked) for the past tense, and ing for the participle (reeking, wreaking). Continue Reading…