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    • Join Date: Nov 2008
    • Posts: 3

    the havoc it wrought

    Which is correct? The havoc it wrought or the havoc it wreaked? Could anyone enlighten me, please? Thanks.

    • Join Date: Nov 2007
    • Posts: 5,403

    Re: the havoc it wrought

    We say 'wreak our revenge'; and the past tense of 'wreak' is 'wreaked', so that 'wreaked havoc' is correct.
    HOWEVER, there is an archaic form 'wrought havoc', which is still very common, and preferred by some people (including me). Note that 'wrought' is not an archaic past tense of 'wreak', but derives from a past tense of 'work'= 'worked' as in 'worked miracles'.

    Hence, both are correct.

    • Join Date: Nov 2008
    • Posts: 3

    Re: the havoc it wrought

    Thanks, David. I couldn't wait too long for reply, so scanned the site and found the following (in red) and have already made the change in my copy.

    Marius Hancu is right then, the debate lives on until today. So would modern usage calls for me to stet "the havoc it wrought"?

    Your opinion, and others, please

    "Marius Hancu* ? #385324**Thu, 28 Jun 07 12:53 PM

    It seems things are under dispute
    (see the end)
    Word Usage?
    Wrought is an old past tense and past participle not of wreak (for which the past tense is wreaked) but of work: it is the equivalent of modern worked. Wrought survives mainly as an adjective in a few, rather specialized contexts such as wrought iron; it is seen also in the set phrase What hath God wrought (used by Samuel Morse in the first successful test of the telegraph). Wrought havoc is not correct; it should be wreaked havoc."

    • Join Date: Nov 2007
    • Posts: 5,403

    Re: the havoc it wrought

    Whom are we to believe?

    I checked the dictionaries under Reference at the top of the page of the UsingEnglish website, and found another example of the use of 'wrought' in this context - "the destruction wrought by the storm."
    and Cambridge saying:

    past simple and past participle of wreak:
    Mr Simmonds has wrought (= caused) considerable changes in the company.

    ..when it isn't! - is past simple derived from 'work'!!
    I confirmed this by looking up my own dictionary:
    In the phrase wrought havoc, as in : they wrought havoc on the countryside, wrought is an archaic past tense of work. It is not, as is sometimes assumed, a past tense of wreak.

    I think you tried to refer me to a website -
    Marius Hancu* ? #385324**Thu, 28 Jun 07 12:53 PM
    It seems things are under dispute

    but it has not 'taken' as a URL. However, I am not optimistic nor enthused about seeking his views or opinion on a matter of English that is 'in dispute' when he writes that this matter is 'under dispute'!!!

    I prefer 'wrought' because we say 'he reeked of booze' and 'she reeked of cheap perfume', and when spoken, don't want that initial confusion between the two words, for the listener - "She reeked havoc."???????
    Last edited by David L.; 21-Nov-2008 at 10:15.

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