fata morgana

noun

fa·​ta mor·​ga·​na ˌfä-tə-mȯr-ˈgä-nə How to pronounce fata morgana (audio)
-ˈga-
variants or Fata Morgana
plural fata morganas or Fata Morganas
: mirage sense 1
… had been taken in by a mirage known as a Fata Morgana, in which atmospheric conditions stretch, invert, and otherwise distort distant objects, making them appear taller.Stanley A. Freed
The non-existent mountainous region in the Arctic called Crockerland … is an example of a Fata Morgana.The Optical Industry & System Directory
Fata Morganas have also been seen over colder bodies of water, such as over Lake Michigan in April 2017, resembling a weird, stretched city skyline in the distance.Jonathan Erdman

Did you know?

Fata Morgana is the Italian name for Morgan le Fay (meaning "Morgan the Fairy"), a sorceress of medieval legends. This sister of the legendary King Arthur is sometimes portrayed as the ruler of the island paradise Avalon and is said to have had a number of magical powers, with which she caused a great deal of trouble. Among her powers, say some versions of the legend, was the ability to change shape, and she has been blamed for causing complex mirages over bodies of water, especially in the Strait of Messina. Today we know that such optical illusions are really caused by atmospheric conditions, but we still sometimes use "fata morgana" as a synonym of "mirage."

Examples of fata morgana in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Every so often, sailors see it: the fata morgana, a trick of light that makes the shoreline seem closer. Gisela Salim-Peyer, The Atlantic, 11 Dec. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'fata morgana.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Italian, literally, Morgan le Fay (sorceress of Arthurian legend)

First Known Use

1785, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of fata morgana was in 1785

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Cite this Entry

“Fata morgana.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fata%20morgana. Accessed 12 Apr. 2024.

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