wreaked havoc


From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:

Wreak \Wreak\ (r[=e]k), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Wreaked (r[=e]kt);
   p. pr. & vb. n. Wreaking.] [OE. wreken to revenge, punish,
   drive out, AS. wrecan; akin to OFries. wreka, OS. wrekan to
   punish, D. wreken to avenge, G. r[aum]chen, OHG. rehhan,
   Icel. reka to drive, to take vengeance, Goth. wrikan to
   persecute, Lith. vargas distress, vargti to suffer distress,
   L. urgere to drive, urge, Gr. e'i`rgein to shut, Skr. v[.r]j
   to turn away. Cf. Urge, Wreck, Wretch.]
   [1913 Webster]
   1. To revenge; to avenge. [Archaic]
      [1913 Webster]

            He should wreake him on his foes.     --Chaucer.
      [1913 Webster]

            Another's wrongs to wreak upon thyself. --Spenser.
      [1913 Webster]

            Come wreak his loss, whom bootless ye complain.
                                                  --Fairfax.
      [1913 Webster]

   2. To inflict or execute, especially in vengeance or passion;
      to hurl or drive; as, to wreak vengeance on an enemy; to
      wreak havoc.
      [1913 Webster]

   Note: The word wrought is sometimes assumed to be the past
         tense of wreak, as the phrases

   wreak havoc and

   wrought havoc are both commonly used. In fact,

   wrought havoc is not as common as

   wreaked havoc. Whether wrought is considered as the past
      tense of wreak or of work,

   wrought havoc has essentially the same meaning.
      Etymologically, however, wrought is only the past tense of
      work.
      [PJC]

            On me let Death wreak all his rage.   --Milton.
      [1913 Webster]

            Now was the time to be avenged on his old enemy, to
            wreak a grudge of seventeen years.    --Macaulay.
      [1913 Webster]

            But gather all thy powers,
            And wreak them on the verse that thou dost weave.
                                                  --Bryant.
      [1913 Webster]
.

From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:

Wrought \Wrought\,
   imp. & p. p. of Work; as, What hath God wrought?.
   [1913 Webster]

   Note: In 1837, Samuel F. B. Morse, an American artist,
         devised a working electric telegraph, based on a rough
         knowledge of electrical circuits, electromagnetic
         induction coils, and a scheme to encode alphabetic
         letters. He and his collaborators and backers
         campaigned for years before persuading the federal
         government to fund a demonstration. Finally, on May 24,
         1844, they sent the first official long-distance
         telegraphic message in Morse code, "What hath God
         wrought," through a copper wire strung between
         Washington, D.C., to Baltimore, Maryland. The phrase
         was taken from the Bible, Numbers 23:23. It had been
         suggested to Morse by Annie Ellworth, the young
         daughter of a friend. --Library of Congress, American
         Memories series
         (http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/today/may24.html).
         [PJC]

               Alas that I was wrought [created]! --Chaucer.
         [1913 Webster]

   Note: The word wrought is sometimes assumed to be the past
         tense of wreak, as the phrases

   wreak havoc and

   wrought havoc are both commonly used. In fact,

   wrought havoc is not as common as

   wreaked havoc. Whether wrought is considered as the past
      tense of wreak or of work,

   wrought havoc has essentially the same meaning, encouraging
      the confusion. Etymologically, however, wrought is only
      the past tense of work.
      [PJC]

            Wrought and wreaked havoc
            Recently, we mentioned that something had wreaked
            havoc with our PC. We were fairly quickly corrected
            by someone who said, "Shouldn't that be wrought
            havoc?" The answer is no, because either wreaked or
            wrought is fine here. A misconception often arises
            because wrought is wrongly assumed to be the past
            participle of wreak. In fact wrought is the past
            participle of an early version of the word work!
            Wreak comes from Old English wrecan "drive out,
            punish, avenge", which derives ultimately from the
            Indo-European root *wreg- "push, shove, drive, track
            down". Latin urgere "to urge" comes from the same
            source, giving English urge. Interestingly, wreak is
            also related to wrack and wreck. The phrase wreak
            havoc was first used by Agatha Christie in 1923.
            Wrought, on the other hand, arose in the 13th
            century as the past participle of wirchen, Old
            English for "work". In the 15th century worked came
            into use as the past participle of work, but wrought
            survived in such phrases as finely-wrought,
            hand-wrought, and, of course, wrought havoc . . . .
            Havoc, by the way, comes from Anglo-French havok,
            which derived from the phrase crier havot "to cry
            havoc". This meant "to give the army the order to
            begin seizing spoil, or to pillage". It is thought
            that this exclamation was Germanic in origin, but
            that's all that anyone will say about it! The
            destruction associated with pillaging came to be
            applied metaphorically to havoc, giving the word its
            current meaning.
                                                  --The
                                                  Institute for
                                                  Etymological
                                                  Research and
                                                  Education
                                                  (http://www.takeourword.com/Issue048.html)
      [PJC]
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