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

Definition of fata morgana

: 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

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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."

First Known Use of fata morgana

1785, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for fata morgana

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

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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 24 Jun. 2021.

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