Wrack - rack

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Rack and wrack form one of the sets of homophones listed by the then Poet Laureate Robert Bridges.
(For more, see Bridges homophones). AWE has a category listing our articles on each of these..

The two homophones rack and wrack (both pronounced to rhyme with 'back', 'lack' and'sack' (IPA: /ræk/) should nowadays be distinguished from each other, although they have frequently been confused in the past. In the most general terms,

  • rack (without the 'w-') is the spelling for terms involving grids and containers, and ideas of torture
  • wrack (with 'w-') is the spelling for words involving such ideas as 'wreck[ing]', 'damag[ing], 'piles of broken fragments' and 'seaweeds'.
For more detail on the two words, see Rack (meanings) and Wrack (meanings).