\ 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

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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 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.

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 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 Unlike wraith demons, the beastly Tarask can fully slip its bond to hell. Ariana Romero, refinery29.com, 2 July 2020 All of a sudden the wraith has materialised—not out of concern for the climate, as oilmen feared, but because of covid-19. The Economist, 8 Apr. 2020 Here Myrtha was performed with one-note efficiency and unmemorable impact by lean, wraith-like Angelina Vlashinets. Robert Greskovic, WSJ, 28 Jan. 2020 Cancer transformed Wu from a baby-faced boy to a sallow wraith immobilized on a gurney. Washington Post, 31 Dec. 2019

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.

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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

7 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Wraith.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wraith. Accessed 13 Jun. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of wraith

: the spirit of a dead person

More from Merriam-Webster on wraith

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for wraith

Nglish: Translation of wraith for Spanish Speakers


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