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.

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