wraith

noun
\ ˈrāth How to pronounce wraith (audio) \
plural wraiths\ ˈrāths How to pronounce wraith (audio) also  ˈrāt͟hz How to pronounce wraith (audio) \

Definition of wraith

1a : the exact likeness of a living person seen usually just before death as an apparition
b : ghost, specter
2 : an insubstantial form or semblance : shadow
3 : a barely visible gaseous or vaporous column

Other Words from wraith

wraithlike \ ˈrāth-​ˌlīk How to pronounce wraith (audio) \ adjective

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 is called a Doppelgänger (literally, "double goer"); in Scottish lore, they are wraiths. The exact origin of the word wraith is misty, however, and etymologists can only trace it back to the early 16th century—in particular to 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; it now often suggests a shadowy—but not necessarily scary—lack of substance.

Examples of wraith in a Sentence

the people who once lived here believed that their world was populated by wraiths and witches
Recent Examples on the Web These include wraith motels, ghoul detectors and even specter silencers. Joe Queenan, WSJ, 30 July 2022 Bald, covered in scars, and draped in monklike robes, Gorr (played by Christian Bale) is a vengeful wraith who wields a mystical blade and has only one goal in mind: killing gods. David Sims, The Atlantic, 5 July 2022 There are shots of people drowning, scary wraith-like figures menacing kids in a fight, and the band members delivering babies as the sands of time surround them — all in reverse. Kory Grow, Rolling Stone, 10 Mar. 2022 Here, Liz is a sort of living wraith, a person who can’t exist in real life and who spends most of the second act washing blood off her feet. Christopher Arnott, courant.com, 18 Jan. 2022 Huge groups of starlings weave and swirl to create otherworldly, wraith-like shadows in the sky. Aj Willingham, CNN, 27 Apr. 2021 But for now, hope that little wraith won’t settle down. Susanna Schrobsdorff, Time, 28 Feb. 2021 Instead of a wraith, scribbling on scraps, this Dickinson was meticulously constructing her legacy through poems that stowed away the infinite in the small. Katy Waldman, The New Yorker, 25 Feb. 2021 Collins will officially be a linebacker, but his actual position will be quarterback tormentor, a wraith who roams around the defense and lives rent free inside the signal-caller’s head. Carlos Monarrez, Detroit Free Press, 8 Aug. 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'wraith.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of wraith

1513, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for wraith

origin unknown

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Last Updated

11 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Wraith.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wraith. Accessed 16 Aug. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on wraith

Nglish: Translation of wraith for Spanish Speakers

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