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A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

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First published 2002 (DOST Vol. XII).

Wra(i)k, Wre(c)k, n.1 and adj. Also: vrak, urak, wrac, wraak, wrake, vrake, wrack(e, urakke, wraike, wraikk-, wraick, vraik, uraik(k)e, wrayk, wreke, vrek, wreak(e, wryk, wrok(e, wroik, vourak. [ME and e.m.E. wrek (1228), wrak (13th c.), wrek(e, wrack (all Cursor M.), wrake (a1350), wrecke (1455), wreak(e (both Tindale), wraick (c1690), OE wræc, wracu, wrǽc and AF wrec, wrek, MDu., MLG wrak, ON *wrec, *wrek, MDan., MSw. vrak, Norw. rek, rak.]

A. noun. I. 1. Vengeance; persecution; retribution; punishment. An instance of this.(a) a1400 Leg. S. i 410.
I will thole Petir nomare, Bot I sall ger myn angelis tak Of hym reuengeance son and wrak
a1400 Leg. S. ii 935.
Trawel with dule and wrak He tholyt ofte for Cristis sak
a1400 Leg. S. xxx 799.
In wrak of hyr fals plicht [the accuser] Deit sodanely in thare sicht
a1400 Leg. S. xxxiii 536.
For he wald nocht Criste forsak, [Dacian] Gert strike his hed of in-to wrak
a1400 Leg. S. xviii 544.
1535 Stewart 3696.
The wrak that fell vpoun this crwell king
1535 Stewart 38949.
To mak an end of all that stryfe and weir Quhairof king Malcolme wes rycht weill content, … For till be quyte of all thair wrak and wrang, And greit injure hes wrocht on thame so lang
1570 Sat. P. xvii 136.
Sum France for aide & sum Ingland inbringis The ane for wrak the tother for defence
1597 Misc. Spald. C. I 135.
For the mair revenge and wrak … thow [etc.]
(b) a1400 Leg. S. x 445.
The clergy … with lythnes [bad] byde goddis wrake
a1400 Leg. S. xlii 262.
The erde steryt … & of mystrowand tuk sic wrake, That of the ton gret part can fal
1604-31 Craig i 21.
Then shuld we not bin poynted at for wrake, scorne and disgrace
(c) a1500 Henr. Test. Cress. 370.
The vengeance and the wraik, For hir trespas Cupide on hir culd tak
1513 Doug. iii iv 91.
First, … sal ȝe stand in sik state, In wraik of our iniuris and bestis slane
1513 Doug. vii ix 117.
Hevy wraik And sorofull vengeance ȝit sal thé ourtake
1513 Doug. xii xiii 130.
Twa vengeabill monstreis … Clepit to surname Dire, wikkit as fyre, That is to say, the goddis wraik or ire
1533 Boece 33a.
His son … be wraik of almychty God in the Rede Se … was drownit
1533 Bell. Livy II 40/14.
We desire nowther the goddis nor men to tak ony wraik or punyssement on ȝow
1560 Rolland Seven S. 5327.
Sall we thairfoir be all destroyit at anis Nay, the first wraik sall fall upon ȝour banis
(d) c1460 Consail Vys Man 84.
Of nakyne personne Ill thow spek Fore that is bot a vyvys vrek
(e) 1513 Doug. v xi ll.
Juno … Not satisfyit of hir ald fury ne wrok [Sm. wroik]

2. (A) disastrous happening, (the) downfall, doom or utter ruin (of an individual, etc.). Also pl.See Heres(c)hip n. 5 and Rewine n. 5 (2), 6 b (c) and 7 for further examples.Cf. S(c)hipwrak n. 2.(1) a1400 Leg. S. xxxiii 116.
Half his realme to thaim tak, To saf his douchtir fra that wrak
c1420 Wynt. i 1361.
Fyffe wrakys … has oure-tayne … Bretayne; Quhen Peychtys warrayd it … Syne the Romanys [etc.]
c1420 Wynt. ii 533 (C).
The wrakys [W. wraikkis] ten in Egipte rasse
1565 Crim. Trials I i 463.
I knaw ȝe haif innemies … quha will nevir ceise quhill thai have destroyit ȝow … bot and ȝe will vse my counsale I sall fynd the meyne to eschew the haill wrek thairof
1571 Reg. Privy C. II 93.
The greit wrak and skaith that the inhabitantis of … Edinburgh … hes sustenit
1587 Acts III 455/2.
The actis maid … for resisting of the continewall wrakkis and heirschippis sustenit be his hienes subiectis throw the invasioun of pirattis
1604-31 Craig in 1622-6 Bisset I 23/18.
Quhat one man doeth ane uther doeth ondou, One consecratis religius workis to gods, Ane other leavs sad wrakis and ruynis … I praise thy book … but am sorie To reid old ruynis in a recent storie
(2) 1461 Liber Plusc. I 386.
Mysdeide has nan attende The wykkyt win with braak [B wraak] pas away
1501 Doug. Pal. Hon. 1564.
How Judith Holiphernes' heid of straik … and fred hir toun fra wraik [L. vrake]
1513 Doug. vi ii 118.
Blak hellis pyt of wraik
1535 Stewart 807.
Sic diuisioun may nocht lest rycht lang, But weir and wrak and mekle opin wrang
1569 Cal. Sc. P. II 638.
To evite uter wrak, quhilk thay purpose to use towartis you
a1585 Maitl. Q. 259/2.
Quhen houp & hap … bene hiest Then wo & wrack … bene niest
c1590 Fowler I 238/14.
Sen farest things to wrak ar maist inclynde
1600 Reg. Privy C. VI 160.
Grit wraick, ruyne and distructioun
1601 Aberd. Eccl. Rec. 184.
[A spirit] sed to the said Walter, ‘Thou art onder wraik; gang to [etc.]’
1604-31 Craig i 21.
Shall wee finde no thing at all, but fundamentall wracke [: abacke]?
16.. Boyd Fam. P. No. 251a (no date).
To releive the tennants of Pimount … of all publict burdings be reasoune of wrak

b. To ga, put, bring, etc. to (utter) wrak (and ruyn). 1513 Doug. ii vii 110.
All ȝeid to wraik, thar war we hail doune bet
1531 Bell. Boece I 227.
Otheris … war put to wraik, and thair strenthis cassin down
15.. Wyf Awcht. 107.
Quod he ‘My office I forsaik … For I wald put ane hows to wraik'
1567 Sat. P. vii 160.
Les this be done, realmes will ga to wrak
1569 Reg. Morton I 49.
That … thai may be brocht to wttir wrack and ruyn
1596 Dalr. I 158/26.
His armie was al put to wrake
1615 Conv. Burghs III 11.
He is reduced to extreame povertie and wreak
1611-57 Mure True Crucifixe 2610.
Intemp'rance … Thee carying headlongs to eternall wreake

c. (1) Of wrak: To cum, fall upoun or to a person or persons. (2) Of a person: To incur wrak. (3) Of an action: To be a wrak or cause of ruin to persons.(1) 1564 Cochran-Patrick Coinage I 92.
The haill wrake fallis vpoun the pure
a1570-86 Maitland in Maitl. F. 32/21.
Sic wraik sall cum vpon ȝow … That [etc.]
1577 Old Ross-shire II 2.
Ane fall and uter wrak to cum upon the said hous
a1578 Pitsc. I 125/13.
Beattrix Douglas … seand nathing bot wraikis to come to hir pretendit husband [etc.]
(2) 1584 Colville Lett. 48.
Lest thai suld incur dainger and wreck to thair selfs
(3) 1593–4 Edinb. B. Rec. V 107.
The cungyeing of the new plaks … wad be an utter wrak to the realme

d. (To) the wrak of (a person, or persons, property, a country, etc.), the harm, hardship, downfall, fate suffered by a person, etc. Also proverb.(1) c1500 Justiciary Rec. I 155.
It will redound to … the wraik and uvirthrow of ȝour gudis and geiris
1570 Sat. P. xvii 48.
His cummer neuer ceist Ay to his wraik and our vtilitie
1569-73 Bann. Memor. 258.
1575 Orkney Oppress. 7.
1576 Warrender P. (SHS) I 133.
1578 Black Bk. Taymouth 221.
1581 Acts III 222/2.
To the vttir wrak and depaupering of the the innocentis
1582 Declar. Causis 25.
To the wraik and disherishing of him
1582 Melvill 130.
Quhilk directlie tendes to the wrak of all trew relligioun
1583 Digest Justiciary Proc. K 37.
Ilk ane … hes committit … tressoun … to the greitt wrak of the commone weill
1594 Lett. Jas. VI to Eliz. 106.
Uraikke … urakke
(b) 1674 Melrose Reg. Rec. II 366.
To his uter wreake and ruine
(2) 1568 Buch. Indict. 33.
As ilk ane haid soucht the vrak and lywes of vther
1569-73 Bann. Memor. 213.
The lady Forbes … beiris the blame of all the wrake of the Forbessis
1570 Warrender P. MS 141.
1570 Sat. P. xxiii 114.
Dois … the hand of God … Wirking thair wrak for breking his command?
1577–8 Reg. Morton I 105.
Gif I suld deliuer the castell … it wer … his majesties great … hurt and … my wrak
1582 Edinb. Test. X 323.
Remember ȝe kepe ȝour honouris wele baytht of toung & hand for gif ȝe do nocht remember wele it salbe ȝour vtter wraik
1583 Reg. Privy C. III 599.
He myndes the harme or wrak of na nobleman
1584 Knox III 433.
The miserable saccage of Jerusalem, [and] utter wrake and overthrow of the cietie
1585 Perth B. Ct. 8 Oct.
The quhilk on na vayis scho culd do without hir awne vrak and disavantage
c1590 Fowler I 44/199.
That lower vane quhose bewtye was his wrack
1592 Warrender P. (SHS) II 178.
Thay … ar movit to seik my wraik and do me the worst thay can
1598 James VI Basil. Doron 74/13.
1608 Lett. & St. P. Jas. VI 146.
My estait endangerit, and my urak socht
1614 Crim. Trials III 324.
The erll wold not looke vpoun Robert … saying, he ‘wes the wraick of him and his estate’
1638 Rutherford Lett. (1894) 553.
Security is the bane and the wrack of the most part of the world
a1651 Calderwood IV 410.
(b) a1605 Montg. Mindes Mel. vi 44.
proverb. 1584-9 Maxwall Commonpl. Bk. Prov. No. 78.
Ane can not be exalted without anothers wrake

II. 3. (The wreckage of) a wrecked ship; specif. as forfeited to the king, etc. See also S(c)hipwrak n. b. A ship forfeited due to being captured or taken as a prize. 1323 Acts I 120/2.
Si les ditz biens ne apartenissent a nous, ou a autres de notre poair par lai wrek, sicom desus est dit
1428 Exch. R. IV 439.
Le wrak cujusdam navis combuste infra portum de Leth et vendite ad usum regis
1500–1 Aberd. B. Rec. I 428.
Ane brokin schip; … the wrak of hir come in on the cost of Croudane
1530 Acta Conc. MS XLI 149.
The esterling schip … quhilk was on his land as wrak
15… Aberd. B. Rec. (Jam. s.v. Vourak).
The vourak of the schip
1622-6 Bisset II 213/1.
Quhair ane man, ane dog or ane cat eschaipis quik out of the schip that sic schip … nor na thing within hir salbe adiudged wraik
1641 Hibbert P. No. 12.
Inrespect scho is altogidder brockin and becom wrack, both anchouris towis and gudes ar dew the admirallis
1701 Brand Orkney & Shetl. 25.
Much timber, the wrack of ships cast away at sea … is driven ashore
b. 1544 Aberd. B. Rec. I 205.
This is the gudis … cum in ane schip … tane as ane prise … item … ane schip of fyr quhilk wes storit as vraik in hir cumin in the havyn, with hir hale salis … ankeris [etc.] and in the said schip xiiijc sparris [etc.]

4. A ship unfit for use or unseaworthy. 1490 Acta Conc. I 159/2.
x li. … awand … for thare half parte of ane schip callit the Trinite of Cowpar to be of nane avale … becaus thare said parte of the said schip wes neuer deliuerit … and … becaus … the said schip wes bot wrak insufficiant
1607 Edinb. Test. XLIII 197b.
The schip callit the Pelican … lying as ane wrak in Leith
1667 Edinb. Test. LXXII 251b.
His … shipe … being nowayes fitt for the sea and laid vp as a wrack

5. Shipwreck, the action of the sea in disabling or destroying a vessel or depriving a person of his vessel by such means.Quot. 1683 may belong in 6 below. 1513 Doug. i iii h. of ch. (Sm.).
How Neptune his navy saifit fra wraik
1513 Doug. iii ix 50 (Ruddim.).
Rent me in pecis, and in the fludis swak, Or droun law vnder the large seyis wrak [C. brak]
1570 Leslie 257.
A gret nombre of thair cumpanie was dronit and boith the shippes, the moist pairt of his guidis losed be the wrake of the sey
1600-1610 Melvill 264.
They [sc. the Spaniards] knew nocht of the wrak of the rest but supposed that the rest of the armie was saifflie returned till a day I gat in St. Androis in print the wrak of the Galliates in particular
1623 Edinb. B. Rec. VI 243.
The distres … quhairin the poore straingeris had fallin by the wrak of thair ship
1683 Cochran-Patrick Coinage II 203.
Its probable the gold has been produced … by the wrack of the Spanish Armado

6. a. Goods, material, the remnants of wrecked ships, etc. recovered from the sea, also as escheat as in 1 above. See also Hafe-wrak n. and Se-wrak n.? Sometimes applied to seaweed, cf., however, Wair n. (see b and d below).(a) 1536–7 Ayr B. Acc. 19.
To twa wemen that bur wrak ij dayis ij s.
1537 Ayr Common Good Acc.
For castyng sand fra the bulwerk & laying of wrak to the samyn iiij s. vj d.
1597 Prestwick B. Rec. 83.
The baillies … hes gevin libertie … to Adam Stewert burges of Air & his tenentis … to gadder & leid wrak fra the sie syid
(b) 1544 Prestwick B. Rec. 59.
Tomas George desyris … to be enteryt to the fredome … and to bruyk … mos and wraik
1570 Prestwick B. Rec. 72.
1622-6 Bisset II 213/1 (see 3 above). 1622-6 Bisset II 213/16.
The king sall have the wraik or escheit of the sea
(c) 1545 Prestwick B. Rec. 60.
At they saw the fens maid apoun wryk apoun the said [Jhone Myller?] inwyth the sae mark and thereftyr his serwandis led the said wryk to the place quhare thay layd of befor
(d) 1567 Prestwick B. Rec. 70.
Na man … beyr wrek or leyd wrek out of the se or se sand quhyl the sone rys
1609 Skene Reg. Maj. ii 19.
Gif wreck perteines to anie other then the King he sall haue the wreck in the samine maner
1602 Shetland Sheriff Ct. (ed.) 6.
Accuseit for the stowth of ane scheip skin … being the kingis wrek
(e) 1622 Durie Decis. 39.
There being one living beast escaping out of the ship which was broke, and whereof the wrack was craved, and so … the goods of the ship could not be esteem'd a wrack, there being one creature alive
1660 Rothesay B. Rec. 54.
Quhat burges … that sall nocht gather the said wrack or sheir the samyn sall … not mak lytle … hillocks thairof for thair use iff they come first to the wrack
1662 Reg. Privy C. 3 Ser. I 223.
[He] gott by sea severall saills and strapts be way of wrack
c1650-1700 Descr. Zetland 43.
We know of no … substances cast up by the sea, except wrack of broken ships
(f) 1628 Dundonald Par. Rec. 264.
John Neil … delated to haue led wrake this day eight dayes in the nyght
1628 Dundonald Par. Rec. 264.
It was tuo houres in the morning before they went to the sea to gather or handle anie wrake
1641 Acts V 540/1.
With all … priviledges proffittes and commodities of the mouth of the said watter of Ness … to fishe the said water … togidder withe priviledge … of three kistes, within the said water wrake [1817 wrack] as vse is

b. In or with reference to the tenendas clause of a charter: (The right to gather) goods, etc. washed up by the sea. Chiefly in collocation with Wair n. or Waith n.2 b, q.v. for further examples. Also transf. 1452 Reg. Great S. 125/1.
Invenerunt dictum forestarium custodem de wrac et waif infra dictum dominium de Coldingham
1478 Reg. Episc. Morav. 233.
Tenendas et habendas omnes … terras … cum wrak waith et wair
1543 Inverness Sheriff Ct. 15b.
To desist … fra vptaking the wraik & wair furth off … the saidis landis
1586 Prestwick B. Rec. 81.
That na vnfreman … gather ather wrek nor wair
c1592 Liber Aberbr. II App. xl/1.
Landis of Seytoun … with wrak and wair flowing fra the sey fluid
1625 Reg. Privy C. 2 Ser. I 30.
All right and title … to wrak, wair, and admiralitie within the boundis of Eister Grantoun within or without the floode mark
1632 Lanark B. Rec. 327.
With furk, fork, sok, sak, thole, thame, vert, vair, wraik, vennysone
1658 Hunter Fam. P. 58.
With priviledge … of cutting wining transporteing and carying of wrack and wair fra the sea
1659 Retours I Inq. Spec. Aberdeen (350).
With the loch and fishings therof, and watter lead of the said loch, with the wrack and wair
1697 Antiq. Aberd. & B. IV 135.
The lands of Inverallochie … with the fishing … fishing boats the wraik and wair of fishes on the sea shore of said lands
1697 Fountainhall Decis. I 786.
He stands infeft … with the privilege of wreck and ware and so has right to debar the defenders from gathering sea-tangle on his ground
16… Peterkin Orkney & Zetl. App. 69.
Personis who happins to meddle with wrake or weith casten up be the sea
transf. a1568 Bann. MS 113a/12 (see 7 below).

c. Wrek of the sea, the right to take possession of goods, etc. recovered from the sea. 1597 Skene Verb. S. s.v. Wrek.
Wrek of the sea … signifies … prerogatiue competent to the King, or to onie person to quhome the samin is granted … to … vptake sik gudes & geare as ar schipbroken or fallis to him be escheit of the sea

d. specif. Applied to seaweed.Perhaps a late borrowing from English, however, some examples in a above may also refer to seaweed. 1700 Wallace Orkney (1883) 42 n.
The most ordinary mannour they have for their land … is sea-weed, sea-ware, as they call it; and in bayes after storms when the sea-weed is driven in greater plenty, all the people … divide the wrack according to the proportion of land they have

7. a. Goods, gear, more generally, chiefly as warldis or war(l)dlie wrak, orig. and chiefly used pejoratively. Cf. warldis gud(is (Warld n. 1 d (2)). b. transf. Worldly pleasure(s). Quot. Winȝet in a may belong here.(1) a1500 Henr. Fab. 1928 (Bann.).
Quhen wretchis in this warldis wrak [Ch., H. calf] do scraip
a1499 Contempl. Sinn. 530 (Asl.).
O princis … In wardlie wrak [Arund. wark] plantand ȝour plesans Ryngand in riches
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 183/76.
Than quho sall wirk for warldis wrak, Quhen flude and fyre sall our it frak
1513 Doug. viii Prol. 96.
Sum wernour for this warldis wrak wendis by hys wyt
1562-3 Winȝet I 8/19.
Hauand regarde to the wreke of this warld or lustis of thair bodyis leuis as Epicurianis
c1568 Lauder Minor P. i 584.
God maid Naball … for to de, And him bereft frome all his wardlie wrak
a1570-86 Maitl. F. 241/15.
My secund brother buyr the pak … Now he hes gold and warldis wrak
1574 Three Reformers 113.
He was voide of all covatyce … And to the love of worldly wrake
1601 Aberd. Eccl. Rec. 180.
Giff thair is nathing can satisfie yow … bot my bluid and wardlie wraik [etc.]
(2) c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 186/33 (B).
Thocht all the werk [M. wraik] that evir had levand wicht Wer only thyne [etc.]
a1568 Bann. MS 113a/12.
Ane wreche sall haif no mair Bot ane schort scheit at heid and feit For all his wrek and wair For all the wrak a wreche can pak … Ȝit deid sall tak him
b. 1562 Reeves Sc. Prose bef. 1600 79.
Ane cart with wemen and bairnis braulie cled sum dansand sum singand [etc.] … quhilk representit the wrak of the warld

8. Weeds, rubbish of this sort. 1699 Belhaven Rudiments 8.
The couch-grass and other weeds, ordinarily called wrack
16… Macfarlane's Geog. Coll. III 143.
There are amongst them that will not suffer the wrack to be taken off their land, because, they say, it keeps the corn warm
1730 Prestwick B. Rec. 89.
William Neill & Andrew Caldwall beyleis … being convined anent the wrake and bent doe retifie and aprove all former acts anent wrake & bent

B. attrib. or adj. 1. Doomed, bound to suffer utter ruin. a1585 Maitl. Q. 111/98.
Sum houpe is ȝit that my seruice sall speid Without the quhilk I wait I am bot wraik [: tak, lak, abak, mak]

2. a. Of a ship: Wrecked, available as salvage. Cf. A II 3 above. b. Of a ship: Unseaworthy, unable to put to sea. c. Wrak gudis, goods available as salvage. See also Waith adj. for further examples. d. Damaged; useless; of no value. Also ellipt.a. 1641 Argyle Inventory in Orig. Par. II i 326.
The wrack ships … of the Spanish Armado
b. 1606 Edinb. Test. XLI 341b.
Ane quartare of ane auld wrak schip
1614 Edinb. B. Rec. VI 116.
To remove … his awld wrak schip furth of the … harbery of Leyth
1645 Pittenweem Ann. 55.
The loss of our men at Kilsyth made the twa part of the small drave boats, quhilk should have gone to the drave, ly wrak at the full sea
1692 Conv. Burghs IV 639.
Four bush boats lyeing wrack at the full sea
c. 1575–6 Reg. Privy S. VII 75/1.
With power to him … to … uptak … wrak and waith guidis of the saidis landis
1602 Shetland Sheriff Ct. (ed.) 45.
Steillairis and mellaris with the wrek guidis thairof
1671 Soc. Ant. XXVI 194.
Gilbert Olasone bailyie … with power … to … secure all wrack and waith goods
d. 1609 Conv. Burghs II 284.
The wrak hering and insufficient to haue na merk
1649 Edinb. B. Rec. VIII 184.
To repair the ruined wrake place of the shoir at Leith … to take doun the same to the ground [etc.]
ellipt. 1584 Edinb. B. Rec. IV 343.
That thai … devyde the guid and sufficient fische fra the wrak and evill

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"Wrak n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 14 Aug 2022 <>



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