It’s another of my own word confusions. I’d get all twisted out of shape, wracked ya might say, when I’d come across what I thought was a mis-use of rack or wrack. Turns out I’m half right and half wrong. Certain definitions of rack and wrack are interchangeable — yes, *grin*, they’re marked below. And others are definite no-nos!
Both rack and wrack can be used when referring to a torturous process: wrack and ruin can also be a rack and ruin although personally, I think that wrack tends to create more of a sense of wreckage as opposed to rack which only makes me think of some sort of cage.
One can also be racked (or wracked) with guilt or another could rack (or wrack) his or her brains. Again, I think that wrack creates more of a sense of destruction while rack tends to contain or direct.
…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.
|Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Merriam-Webster: rack and wrack|
|Part of Grammar:|
|Late Middle English variant spelling of wrack
Noun 1, 2, 3, 4
Verb, intransitive 2, 5, 7 & transitive 1, 6
|Late Middle English variant spelling of rack
Noun 8, 9, 10
Verb, intransitive & transitive 11
Framework, usually with rails, bars, hooks, or pegs for holding or storing things Never, ever use wrack. 1
A cogged or toothed bar or rail engaging with a wheel or pinion, or using pegs to
Adjust the position of something
[North America] Set of antlers
[North America; slang] Woman’s breasts
[North America; informal] Bed
[Historical] Instrument of torture consisting of a frame on which the victim was stretched by turning rollers to which the wrists and ankles were tied
Triangular structure for positioning balls in pool
Lift used to repair vehicles
A fast, showy, four-beat gait in which both hoofs on either side in turn are lifted almost simultaneously, and all four hoofs are off the ground together at certain moments 2
Large cut of meat, typically lamb 3
[Also wrack] Mass of high, thick, fast-moving clouds 4
[Of a cloud; also wrack] Be driven before the wind 5
To become forced out of shape or out of plumb 7
Place in or on a rack Never, ever use wrack.
[Chiefly archaic] Raise rent above a fair or normal amount
To seize as parallel ropes of a tackle together
Draw off wine, beer, etc. from the sediment in the barrel 6
Work or treat material on a rack
Work by a rack-and-pinion or worm so as to extend or contract
[Also wrack] Cause extreme physical or mental pain to someone, something[Also wrack] Subject to extreme stress
Coarse brown seaweeds that grow on the shoreline 8
[Archaic] Wrecked ship, shipwreck 9
[Also rack] Subject to extreme stress
To utterly ruin 11
Get the car up on the rack.
Fill up that hay rack for the cows.
Arnie’s woman is kinda bossy, but she’s got a nice rack.
Hang the spice rack on that wall.
Geez, I gotta clean out this magazine rack.
Yum! Rack of lamb!
Place the cake on a wire rack to cool.
“Most of her clothes are off the rack,” she sniffed.
There was a thin moon, a rack of cloud in the sky that night.
Rack-and-pinion steering is one of the essential components of a car.
“He’s really let this place go to rack and ruin,” he muttered.
Dark clouds racked across the sky.
“Three glorious suns, each one a perfect sun, not separated with the racking clouds, but severed in a pale, clear-shining sky.”
He racked the camera.
The shoes were racked neatly beneath the dresses.
The wine is racked off into large oak casks.
He’s racked up our rent!
Rack up the balls.
The legality of racking a prisoner was questioned in 1628.
A lot of wrack has washed up on the shore.
“He’s really let this place go to wrack and ruin,” he muttered.
“Three glorious suns, each one a perfect sun, not separated with the wracking clouds, but severed in a pale, clear-shining sky.”
He’s really having to wrack his brains for that answer!
The legality of wracking a prisoner was questioned in 1628.
|Noun: rackful, racker
|History of the Word:|
|1 Middle English from the Middle Dutch rec and the Middle Low German rek meaning horizontal bar or shelf, probably from recken meaning to stretch, reach and the most likely source for 1a.
4 14th century with the Middle English meaning of rain cloud or rapid movement denoting a rush or collision, probably of Scandinavian origin. Compare it with the Norwegian and Swedish dialect rak meaning wreckage, from reka meaning to drive.
|8 First known use was in 14th century as wrak from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German and akin to the Old English wræc as something driven by the sea.|
C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves? Also, please note that I try to be as accurate as I can, but mistakes happen or I miss something. Email me if you find errors, so I can fix them…and we’ll all benefit!