"Wreck & ruin"

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Thu Jan 29 18:31:15 UTC 2009

On Jan 28, 2009, at 5:47 PM, Bill Palmer wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Bill Palmer <w_a_palmer at BELLSOUTH.NET>
> Subject:      "Wreck & ruin"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Chapel Hill News 1/29/09, referring to a historic hotel in
> Hillsborough NC,
> quoting a local citizen, "....a building with so much history should
> not be
> allowed to fall into wreck and ruin"

fair number of google hits.

> Eggcorn, or (possibly) inadvertent reversion to the saying's
> original form?

what the OED says about the "(w)rack" of "(in)to (w)rack and ruin",
other uses of "wrack", and uses of "wreck" and "wreak" is
extraordinarily complex.  but i doubt that current speakers appreciate
any of this history.  the OED does give both "rack and ruin" and
"wrack and ruin" for the idiom.  NOAD2 lists the idiom under "rack"
but gives "wrack" as a variant.  Brians, however, insists that only
"wrack" is correct here.  meanwhile, there are clearly some people who
think that the idiom is connected to wrecking.


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