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From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Wretch \Wretch\, n. [OE. wrecche, AS. wrecca, wr[ae]cca, an exile, a wretch, fr. wrecan to drive out, punish; properly, an exile, one driven out, akin to AS. wr[ae]c an exile, OS. wrekkio a stranger, OHG. reccheo an exile. See Wreak, v. t.] [1913 Webster] 1. A miserable person; one profoundly unhappy. "The wretch that lies in woe." --Shak. [1913 Webster] Hovered thy spirit o'er thy sorrowing son, Wretch even then, life's journey just begun? --Cowper. [1913 Webster] 2. One sunk in vice or degradation; a base, despicable person; a vile knave; as, a profligate wretch. [1913 Webster] Note: Wretch is sometimes used by way of slight or ironical pity or contempt, and sometimes to express tenderness; as we say, poor thing. "Poor wretch was never frighted so." --Drayton. [1913 Webster]