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.]
1. To revenge; to avenge. [Archaic]
He should wreake him on his foes. --Chaucer.
Another's wrongs to wreak upon thyself. --Spenser.
Come wreak his loss, whom bootless ye complain.
2. To inflict or execute, especially in vengeance or passion;
to hurl or drive; as, to wreak vengeance on an enemy; to
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
On me let Death wreak all his rage. --Milton.
Now was the time to be avenged on his old enemy, to
wreak a grudge of seventeen years. --Macaulay.
But gather all thy powers,
And wreak them on the verse that thou dost weave.