Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

wraith

play
noun \ˈrāth\

Simple Definition of wraith

  • : the spirit of a dead person

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of wraith

plural

wraiths

play \ˈrāths also ˈrāthz\
  1. 1 a :  the exact likeness of a living person seen usually just before death as an apparition b :  ghost, specter

  2. 2 :  an insubstantial form or semblance :  shadow

  3. 3 :  a barely visible gaseous or vaporous column

wraithlike

play \-ˌlīk\ adjective

Examples of wraith in a sentence

  1. <the people who once lived here believed that their world was populated by wraiths and witches>



Did You Know?

If you see your own double, you're in trouble, at least if you believe old superstitions. The belief that a ghostly twin's appearance portends death is one common to many cultures. In German folklore, such an apparition was called a "Doppelgänger" (literally, "double goers"); in Scottish lore, they were "wraiths." The exact origin of the word wraith is misty, however. Etymologists can only trace it back to its first use in an English text in a 1513 translation of Virgil’s "Aeneid" by Gavin Douglas (the Scotsman used "wraith" to name apparitions of both the dead and the living). In current English, "wraith" has taken on additional, less spooky, meanings as well; it now often suggests a shadowy - but not necessarily scary - lack of substance.

Origin and Etymology of wraith

origin unknown


First Known Use: 1513

Rhymes with wraith



Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up wraith? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

mysterious, holy, or spiritual

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

lavender-fields-in-france

Which of these is a synonym of caesura?

rebellion megillah interruption torrent
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ