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3 definitions found
 for wreak 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]

From Moby Thesaurus II by Grady Ward, 1.0 :

  89 Moby Thesaurus words for "wreak havoc":
     abuse, afflict, aggrieve, befoul, bewitch, blight, bring to ruin,
     condemn, confound, consume, corrupt, crucify, curse, damage, damn,
     deal destruction, decimate, defile, deprave, depredate, desolate,
     despoil, destroy, devastate, devour, disadvantage, disserve,
     dissolve, distress, do a mischief, do evil, do ill, do wrong,
     do wrong by, doom, engorge, envenom, get into trouble, gobble,
     gobble up, gut, gut with fire, harass, harm, havoc, hex, hurt,
     impair, incinerate, infect, injure, jinx, lay in ruins, lay waste,
     maltreat, menace, mistreat, molest, outrage, persecute,
     play havoc with, play hob with, poison, pollute, prejudice, ravage,
     ruin, ruinate, savage, scathe, shipwreck, swallow up, taint,
     threaten, throw into disorder, torment, torture,
     unleash destruction, unleash the hurricane, upheave, vandalize,
     vaporize, violate, waste, wound, wrack, wreak havoc on, wreck,
     wrong
  
  

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