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See also: Wight



Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English wight, wiȝt, from Old English wiht (wight, person, creature, being, whit, thing, something, anything), from Proto-Germanic *wihtiz (essence, object), from Proto-Indo-European *wekti- (cause, sake, thing), from Proto-Indo-European *wekʷ- (to say, tell). Cognate with Scots wicht (creature, being, human), Dutch wicht (child, baby), German Low German Wicht (wight), German Wicht (wretch, wight, little creature, scoundrel), Norwegian Bokmål vette (underground creature, gnome), Swedish vätte (underground creature, gnome), Icelandic vættur (imp, elf). See also whit.

The meaning of the wraith-like creature is from barrow-wights in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth world.


wight (plural wights)

  1. (archaic) A living creature, especially a human being.
  2. (paganism) A being of one of the Nine Worlds of Heathen belief, especially a nature spirit, elf or ancestor.
  3. (poetic) A ghost, deity or other supernatural entity.
    • 1789, William Blake, A Dream, lines 14-16:
      But I saw a glow-worm near, / Who replied: ‘What wailing wight / Calls the watchman of the night?
    • 1851, Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chapter 2:
      “In judging of that tempestuous wind called Euroclydon,” says an old writer—of whose works I possess the only copy extant—“it maketh a marvellous difference, whether thou lookest out at it from a glass window where the frost is all on the outside, or whether thou observest it from that sashless window, where the frost is on both sides, and of which the wight Death is the only glazier.”
    • 1869, William Morris and Eiríkr Magnússon (translators), Grettis Saga: The Story of Grettir the Strong, F. S. Ellis, page 49:
      Everything in their way was kicked out of place, the barrow-wight setting on with hideous eagerness; Grettir gave back before him for a long time, till at last it came to this, that he saw it would not do to hoard his strength any more; now neither spared the other, and they were brought to where the horse-bones were, and thereabout they wrestled long.
  4. (fantasy) A wraith-like creature.

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English, from Old Norse vígt, neuter of vígr (skilled in fighting, of age), cognate with Old English wīġ.[1]



  1. (archaic except in dialects) Brave, valorous, strong.
    • 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, chapter ix, in Le Morte Darthur, book XVIII:
      I haue two sones that were but late made knyghtes / and the eldest hyghte sir Tirre / [] / and my yongest sone hyght Lauayne / and yf hit please yow / he shalle ryde with yow vnto that Iustes / and he is of his age x stronge and wyght
  2. (Britain dialectal) Strong; stout; active.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Merriam-Webster, 1974.

Middle English[edit]


wight (plural wightes)

  1. A person, a human being.