wraith

play
noun \ˈrāth\

Definition of wraith

plural

wraiths

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

  2. 2 :  an insubstantial form or semblance :  shadow

  3. 3 :  a barely visible gaseous or vaporous column

wraithlike

play \ˈrāth-ˌlīk\ adjective

wraith was our Word of the Day on 03/29/2011. Hear the podcast!

Examples of wraith in a Sentence

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

Recent Examples of wraith from the Web

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.

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


WRAITH Defined for English Language Learners

wraith

play
noun

Definition of wraith for English Language Learners

  • : the spirit of a dead person



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WORD OF THE DAY

lacking social experience or grace

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