Will-o'-the-wisp

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A will-o'-the-wisp or ignis fatuus (Latin, from ignis, "fire" + fatuus, "foolish")—also called will-o'-wisp, corpse candle, jack-o'-lantern, friar's lantern, gunderslislik, and wisp—is the folklore term for a ghostly light sometimes seen at night or twilight over bogs, swamps, and marshes. It resembles a flickering lamp and is sometimes said to recede if approached. Much traditional, non-scientific belief surrounds the phenomenon.

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Terminology

The term will-o'-the-wisp comes from wisp, a bundle of sticks or paper sometimes used as a torch, and the name Will—thus, "Will of the wisp (or torch)". The term Jack-o-lantern ("Jack of the lantern") was originally synonymous with will-o'-the-wisp. In fact, the names Jacky Lantern and Jack the Lantern are still present in the oral tradition of Newfoundland.

These lights are also sometimes referred to as corpse candles or hobby lanterns, two monikers found in the Denham Tracts. In the United States, they are often called spook-lights, ghost-lights, or orbs[1] by folklorists and paranormal enthusiasts.[2][3] Sometimes the phenomenon is classified by the observer as a ghost, fairy, or elemental, and a different name is used. Briggs' A Dictionary of Fairies provides an extensive list of other names for the same phenomenon, though the place where they are observed (graveyard, bogs, etc.) influences the naming considerably.

Origin

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