Rack is always (and only) ever used for anything to do with a framework for manipulating things. Never, ever use wrack.
Both rack and wrack can be used when referring to a torturous process: wrack and ruin can also be a rack and ruin although personally, I think that wrack tends to create more of a sense of wreckage as opposed to rack which only makes me think of some sort of cage.
One can also be racked (or wracked) with guilt or another could rack (or wrack) his or her brains. Again, I think that wrack creates more of a sense of destruction while rack tends to contain.
It’s one of the things I adore about the English language—with the proper word choice, one can be extremely precise!
|Part of Grammar:|
|Noun, Verb||Noun, Verb|
Framework, usually with rails, bars, hooks, or pegs for holding or storing things.
Overhead shelf on a bus, train, or plane
Set of antlers
[Slang] Woman’s breasts
[Historical] Instrument of torture
Triangular structure for positioning balls in pool
Digital effects unit for a guitar or other instrument
Vertically barred arrangmend for holding animal fodder
Lift used to repair vehicles
Large cut of meat, tpically lamb
Mass of high, thick, fast-moving clouds
Place in or on a rack
[Archaic] Raise the rent above a fair or normal amount
[Also wrack] Cause extreme physical or mental pain to someone, something
A horse moving with such a gait
Coarse brown seaweeds that grow on the shoreline
[Archaic] Wrecked ship, shipwreck
Get the car up on the rack.
Fill up that hay rack for the cows.
He’s racked up our rent!
Yum! Rack of lamb!
Place the cake on a wire rack to cool.
A lot of wrack has washed up on the shore.
He’s really having to wrack his brains for that answer!
|History of the Word:|
|Middle English (verb)
Late 16th century (noun)
Late 15th century (verb)
Middle English (verb)
Late Middle English
|Early 16th century (noun)
Late Middle English (noun)
Late Middle English
C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?
Kathy Davie is an author, educator, and artist with a BS in Technical Writing & Editing with minors in Digital Media and History from Metropolitan State College in Denver, Colorado
She is the author of the arts marketing series, Your Portfolio & You, aimed at helping artists survive (and thrive) at the business of being an artist and include Accounting for the SMALL Businessperson, How Copyright Applies to the Artist, the Buyer, the Employer/e, the Sold Artwork, Dealing with Photographs, Slides, Digital Images, and Surviving the Outdoor Arts Festival.
A huge believer in knowledge being power, Kathy has begun a free set of Author Tools for authors interested in self-editing including an online tutorial in Using Microsoft Word’s Markup Tool, words commonly confused by authors and Punctuation and Formatting Tips.