will o' the wisp

Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search

English[edit]

English Wikipedia has an article on:
Wikipedia

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Will (male given name) + of + the + wisp (bundle of straw or hay used as a torch)[1]

Pronunciation[edit]

  • (US) IPA(key): /ˌwɪləðəˈwɪsp/
  • (file)

Noun[edit]

will o' the wisp (plural will o' the wisps)

  1. (Britain folklore) A flickering light or lantern, especially over bogs, swamps or marshes, held by a supernatural creature who uses it to lure travelers at night to their demise.
    • 1988, Michael Weikath, "Keeper of the Seven Keys", Helloween, Keeper of the Seven Keys: Part II.
      Will o' the wisps / Misguiding your path / You can't throw a curse / Without takin' their wrath
  2. (idiomatic) A delusionary or otherwise unachievable goal that one feels compelled to pursue.
    • 1992 March 2, Richard Preston, The New Yorker, "The Mountains of Pi":
      I happen to think the brothers’ pi project is a will-o’-the-wisp, and is one of the least interesting things they’ve ever done. But what do I know?

Synonyms[edit]

Translations[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2021), “will o' the wisp”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.

Further reading[edit]