wreck and ruin

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Sat Feb 6 18:58:09 UTC 2010

On Feb 5, 2010, at 2:00 PM, Jon Lighter wrote:
> OED has the prescriptively "correct" "rack and ruin" sv "rack," but an
> advanced search turns up the despised "wreck and ruin,"
> which makes no less sense, from the 1880s.
> Here's another:
> 1901 in  H. G. Wells _Twelve Stories and a Dream_ (London:
> Macmillan, 1903)
> 297: I...left all those things to wreck and ruin just to save a
> remnant at
> least of my life.

not in the eggcorn database, so far as i can tell (we do have "wreck
havoc" and "wreckless").

the OED says "rack" in "rack and ruin" is a variant of "wrack"
'destruction', and indeed there are "to wrack" cites from 1412 on,
including some for "go to wrack and ruin".

meanwhile, in the first "wreck" entry, the OED has "go to wreck" cites
from a1547 on, including a "go to wreck and ruin" cite from 1877.

and a google search on {"to wreck and ruin"} pulls up large numbers of
examples, though google does ask if i meant "to wrack and ruin", and
there are enormous numbers of hits for *that*.  several dictionaries,
including NOAD2, give "rack" and "wrack" as variants in this idiom.

the world of rack/wrack/wreck (+ wreak) is in serious disorder.


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