When you drive, which one of these should you aspire to? Which one should you avoid? Ignoring the fact that only one of these is a real word, I think logic directs you to one side rather than the other.
Hint: a police officer might pull you over for reckless driving, but if you’re a wreckless driver, you won’t have any points taken off of your record.
- “Reckless” is to be careless or unconcerned with the consequences.
- “Wreckless,” I suppose, would be to have an absence of collisions, but—again—it isn’t a real word.
While the difference is only a matter of a “w,” the roots of the core of these words—“reck” and “wreck”—come from different directions. “Reckless” traces back to the Old English rēcan and earlier form reccan, which which means to care. “Reck” isn’t a word we use today, but this absence of care is clear in the “reckless” form we well know.
“Wreck” comes from the Old English wrecan, which meant to punish or avenge.
Interestingly, Beowulf included both forms, reccan and wrecan. They are indeed different and continue to be so today.
Whether you’re feeling like a wreck or not, being reckless can have unintended consequences—when you’re being so in your writing or otherwise. Not fazed? Maybe you should be.