Wretch Wretch, n. [OE. wrecche, AS. wrecca, wr[ae]cca, an exile, a wretch, fr. wrecan to drive out, punish; properly, an exile, one driven out, akin to AS. wr[ae]c an exile, OS. wrekkio a stranger, OHG. reccheo an exile. See {Wreak}, v. t.] [1913 Webster] 1. A miserable person; one profoundly unhappy. ``The wretch that lies in woe.'' --Shak. [1913 Webster]

Hovered thy spirit o'er thy sorrowing son, Wretch even then, life's journey just begun? --Cowper. [1913 Webster]

2. One sunk in vice or degradation; a base, despicable person; a vile knave; as, a profligate wretch. [1913 Webster]

Note: Wretch is sometimes used by way of slight or ironical pity or contempt, and sometimes to express tenderness; as we say, poor thing. ``Poor wretch was never frighted so.'' --Drayton. [1913 Webster]

The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.


Look at other dictionaries:

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  • wretch — [retʃ] n [: Old English; Origin: wrecca person driven out ] 1.) someone that you feel sorry for ▪ He was a lonely, miserable wretch. 2.) someone you are annoyed with ▪ Stop pulling my hair, you wretch! …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • wretch — [ retʃ ] noun count 1. ) someone who is in a difficult situation and who you feel sorry for: The poor wretch lay crying by the side of the road. 2. ) HUMOROUS someone you do not like or who annoys you: Why did you marry that wretch? a ) LITERARY… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • wretch — (n.) O.E. wrecca wretch, stranger, exile, from P.Gmc. *wrakjan (Cf. O.S. wrekkio, O.H.G. reckeo a banished person, exile, Ger. recke renowned warrior, hero ), related to O.E. wreccan to drive out, punish (see WREAK (Cf. wreak)). Sense of vile,… …   Etymology dictionary

  • wretch — ► NOUN 1) an unfortunate person. 2) informal a contemptible person. ORIGIN Old English …   English terms dictionary

  • wretch — [rech] n. [ME wrecche < OE wrecca, an outcast, lit., one driven out < wrecan, to drive out, punish: see WREAK] 1. a miserable or unhappy person; person in deep distress or misfortune 2. a person who is despised or scorned …   English World dictionary

  • wretch —    This word is now rather old fashioned, but it came easily to speakers in former times who wished to abuse someone. It was in regular use from the fourteenth to the nineteenth century, with the meaning of ‘vile person’, and was either insulting …   A dictionary of epithets and terms of address

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