Will-with-the-wisp
Ignis fatuus Ig"nis fat"u*us; pl. {Ignes fatui}. [L. ignis fire + fatuus foolish. So called in allusion to its tendency to mislead travelers.] 1. A phosphorescent light that appears, in the night, over marshy ground, supposed to be occasioned by the decomposition of animal or vegetable substances, or by some inflammable gas; -- popularly called also {Will-with-the-wisp}, or {Will-o'-the-wisp}, and {Jack-with-a-lantern}, or {Jack-o'-lantern}. [1913 Webster]

2. Fig.: A misleading influence; a decoy. [1913 Webster]

Scared and guided by the ignis fatuus of popular superstition. --Jer. Taylor. [1913 Webster]


The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • will-with-the-wisp — ˈwilwithəˈwisp noun Etymology: Will (nickname for William) + with + the + wisp archaic : will o the wisp …   Useful english dictionary

  • will-o'-the-wisp — [wil′ə thə wisp′] n. [earlier Will with the wisp < Will (nickname for WILLIAM1) + WISP] 1. JACK O LANTERN (sense 1) 2. any hope or goal that leads one on but is impossible to reach …   English World dictionary

  • will-o'-the-wisp — 1660s, earlier Will with the wisp (c.1600), from the masc. proper name Will + wisp bundle of hay or straw used as a torch …   Etymology dictionary

  • will-o'-the-wisp — ► NOUN 1) a phosphorescent light seen hovering or floating at night on marshy ground, thought to result from the combustion of natural gases. 2) a person or thing that is difficult or impossible to reach or catch. ORIGIN originally as Will with… …   English terms dictionary

  • Will-o'-the-wisp — Ignis fatuus Ig nis fat u*us; pl. {Ignes fatui}. [L. ignis fire + fatuus foolish. So called in allusion to its tendency to mislead travelers.] 1. A phosphorescent light that appears, in the night, over marshy ground, supposed to be occasioned by… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • will-o'-the-wisp — noun 1》 a phosphorescent light seen hovering or floating at night on marshy ground, thought to result from the combustion of natural gases. 2》 a person or thing that is difficult or impossible to reach or catch. Origin C17: orig. as Will with the …   English new terms dictionary

  • will-o'-the-wisp — n. 1 a phosphorescent light seen on marshy ground, perhaps resulting from the combustion of gases. 2 an elusive person. 3 a delusive hope or plan. Etymology: orig. Will with the wisp: wisp = handful of (lighted) hay etc …   Useful english dictionary

  • Will-o'-the-wisp — For other uses, see Will o the wisp (disambiguation). Will o the wisp Phenomenon An 1882 oil painting of a will o the wisp by Arnold Böcklin See also …   Wikipedia

  • will-o'-the-wisp — willo the wispish; esp. Brit., willo the wispy, adj. /wil euh dheuh wisp /, n. 1. See ignis fatuus (def. 1). 2. anything that deludes or misleads by luring on. [1600 10; orig. Will (i.e., William) with the wisp; see WISP] * * * …   Universalium

  • will-o'-the-wisp — [[t]ˈwɪl ə ðəˈwɪsp[/t]] n. 1) ignis fatuus 1) 2) anything that deludes or misleads by luring on; an elusive thing or person • Etymology: 1600–10; orig. Will (i.e., William) with the wisp …   From formal English to slang

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”