Rack vs Wrack

Using words that not only sound alike but also look alike may sometimes be nerve-racking or is it nerve-wracking? This is the case with the terms rack and wrack. Their pronounciations are not only the same but their spellings are actually separated only by the extra ‘w’ at the start of wrack. This post will help you distinguish between the two in terms of meaning and use.

The word rack may be used as a noun denoting “a framework, typically with rails, bars, hooks, or pegs, for holding or storing things.”

No Room on a Bike Rack? Not a Problem for These Smart Bikes
New York Times

Dashcam footage shows the moment a door flew off a roof rack into traffic following behind
Cornwall Live

Walmart sorry for this ‘terrible’ sign left above rack of guns for sale in store

It may also be used as a verb meaning “to cause extreme physical or mental pain to” or “subject to extreme stress.”

Racked by her bad credit history, mom wonders whether to buy home in 17-year-old son’s name
Washington Post

“Albuera has been racked by controversies since the May 2016 elections due to security.”

Combined with the preposition up, the word rack up means “to accumulate something.”

Best Ways To Rack Up Frequent Flyer Miles Without Flying

Two headteachers who have racked up 27 years of service say farewell to their schools
Wales Online

On the other hand, the term wrack may be used as a transitive verb which means “to utterly ruin.”

Boom on South Korean bourse fails to inspire buyers wracked by credit card debt
Independent Online

“Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, has been wracked by violence since Houthi rebels and their allies seized vast tracts of territory, including the capital, Sanaa.”

“By comparison, Hurricane Harvey wracked the Texas coast with 130 mph winds at landfall Friday night.”
Charlston Post Courier

Now that you’ve learned about the differences between rack and wrack, you would be able to distinguish between the two words and use them properly in your writing.