Wreak Havoc: What Does the Idiom “Wreaking Havoc” Mean?

“Wreak havoc” is a very common phrase that is used in everyday conversation and writing. Here you will find the meaning of the phrase and information about the origin of the phrase. You will also find the phrase used properly in some examples of conversations/statements, in addition to suggestions of other ways you could say this phrase to convey the same meaning.

Wreak Havoc

Wreak Havoc Meaning

The meaning of the phrase “wreak havoc” is the act of causing damage, destruction and/or chaos.

The phrase “wreaking havoc” means that someone or something is causing a great deal of trouble or is causing a lot of damage.

Origin of this idiom

Before the 19th century, the word wreak was already used widely in literature and speech. It was not until 1926 when well-known author Agatha Christie put the phrase “wreak havoc” into one of her best-selling novels that the phrase became widely used. Although the phrase had been loosely used before this time, her novel helped to boost its popularity in society. A popularity that continues today.

The idiomatic phrase “wreaking havoc” was first used sometime during the 19th century. Although the word “wreak” was used in other phrases such as “wreaking destruction” or “wreaking ruin,” before the first time it was used, none of these phrases became regularly used. The phrase was used from its first mention onward and was provided a great boost in popularity in the 20th century when the infamous author Agatha Christie used the phrase in one of her novels titled The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.

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“Wreak Havoc” Examples

Examples in Statements

A newspaper story regarding a recent hurricane impacting an area.

  • “The storm slowly made its way onshore and wreaked havoc for hours on end.”

A statement made by a fire department official regarding a wildfire.

  • “The fire has continued to wreak havoc for many days and has burned through hundreds of acres.”

Examples in Conversations

A conversation between two friends.

  • Friend 1: Did you get your computer fixed.
  • Friend 2: No, not yet. My dad is looking at it.
  • Friend 1: Well, I hope he can repair it for you.
  • Friend 2: Me too. That virus I got wreaked havoc on my system.

A conversation between a mother and a father.

  • Mother: I am exhausted and my house is a mess after that party.
  • Father: Yeah, having 10 five year olds in the house is bound to wreak havoc.

A conversation between two friends.

  • Friend 1: I love spending time with Evelyn, but she likes to cause trouble.
  • Friend 2: You are right about that. She has a knack for wreaking havoc wherever she happens to go.

A conversation between two co-workers in the office.

  • Co-worker 1: We need to get that machine back up and running soon or we are going to be in for it.
  • Co-worker 2: Yes, it is wreaking havoc on our production as we speak.

More useful examples:

  • The new tax could wreak havoc among smaller companies.
  • Did they hire a private eye to wreak havoc on the life of the harasser?
  • These insects can wreak havoc on crops.
  • Stress can wreak havoc on the immune system.
  • An ice storm continues to wreak havoc on the Midwest.
  • The wind will wreak havoc on my garden.
  • Children have a way of wreaking havoc wherever they go.
  • The tornado whirled its way through town, wreaking havoc for almost 100 miles before subsiding.
  • It’s 1984, and falling prices are wreaking havoc in the oil business.
  • The three women were wreaking havoc with their guns that fired streaks of light.

Other Ways to Say “Wreak Havoc”

There are several ways you can say wreak havoc while still conveying the same meaning. Some of the things you could say instead include cause damage, cause chaos or cause disruption.

List of “Wreak Havoc” synonyms:

  • Ravage
  • Destroy
  • Ruin
  • Create chaos
  • Damage
  • Devastate
  • Demolish
  • Harm

There are several other ways to say “wreaking havoc” using different words or phrases. Some of these substitutes include:

  • Causing mayhem
  • Causing trouble
  • Causing ruin

What does “Wreaking Havoc” Mean? | Picture

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Last Updated on March 19, 2020

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