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Related to wracks: racks up
go to wrack and ruin
cliché To fall into severe or total decay, degradation, or ruination, as from disuse or lack of upkeep. ("Wrack," a now-archaic word meaning wreckage or destruction, is also often spelled "rack.") It greatly pains me that my grandfather's estate has been left to go to wrack and ruin. If only we'd been able to afford for someone to look after it all these years. The neighbor's property has really gone to wrack and ruin lately. I'm thinking about filing a complaint with the neighborhood association!
wrack (one's) brain(s)
To struggle very hard to recall or think of something. ("Rack" is considered the more correct spelling, though "wrack" has become acceptable through common usage.) I've been wracking my brain, but I still can't remember what Lydia's husband's name is. He wracked his brains all weekend trying to think of a solution to the problem.
See also: wrack
wrack and ruin
cliché Utter destruction or ruination; severe or total decay or degradation, as from disuse or lack of upkeep. ("Wrack," a now-archaic word meaning wreckage or destruction, is also often spelled "rack.") Used especially in the phrase "go to wrack and ruin." The wrack and ruin of my grandfather's estate pains me greatly. If only we'd been able to afford for someone to look after it for all these years. The neighbor's property has really gone to wrack and ruin lately. I'm thinking about filing a complaint with the neighborhood association!
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
wrack and ruin
Cliché complete destruction or ruin. They went back after the fire and saw the wrack and ruin that used to be their house. Drinking brought him nothing but wrack and ruin.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
rack and ruin, go to
Also, go to wrack and ruin. Become decayed, decline or fall apart, as in After the founder's death the business went to rack and ruin. These expressions are emphatic redundancies, since rack and wrack (which are actually variants of the same word) mean "destruction" or "ruin." [Mid-1500s]
see under rack.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
wrack (one's) brains/brain
To try hard to remember or think of something.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
rack and ruin, gone to
Dilapidated and decayed. These words originally meant utter destruction and financial ruin, rack here being a variant of wreck (it was sometimes spelled wrack, showing the close association). The term, from the sixteenth century, no doubt owes its long life in part to alliteration. Today it is most often used of inanimate objects, such as a building or a business. In 1782 Elizabeth Blower doubled up on clichés, writing, “Everything would soon go to sixes and sevens, and rack and ruin” (George Bateman).
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer