will-o'-the-wisp


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Related to will-o'-the-wisp: ball lightning

will-o'-the-wisp

 (wĭl′ə-thə-wĭsp′)
n.
2. A delusive or misleading hope.

[From Will, nickname for William.]

will-o'-the-wisp

(ˌwɪləðəˈwɪsp)
n
1. (Chemistry) Also called: friar's lantern, ignis fatuus or jack-o'-lantern a pale flame or phosphorescence sometimes seen over marshy ground at night. It is believed to be due to the spontaneous combustion of methane or other hydrocarbons originating from decomposing organic matter
2. a person or thing that is elusive or allures and misleads
[C17: originally Will with the wisp, from Will short for William and wisp in former sense of a twist of hay or straw burning as a torch]
ˌwill-o'-the-ˈwispish, ˌwill-o'-the-ˈwispy adj

will-o'-the-wisp

(ˈwɪl ə ðəˈwɪsp)

n.
2. anything that deludes or misleads by luring on; an elusive thing or person.
[1600–10; orig. Will (i.e., William) with the wisp]
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.will-o'-the-wisp - a pale light sometimes seen at night over marshy groundwill-o'-the-wisp - a pale light sometimes seen at night over marshy ground
light, visible light, visible radiation - (physics) electromagnetic radiation that can produce a visual sensation; "the light was filtered through a soft glass window"
2.will-o'-the-wisp - an illusion that misleads
fancy, phantasy, illusion, fantasy - something many people believe that is false; "they have the illusion that I am very wealthy"

will-o'-the-wisp

noun
An erroneous perception of reality:
Translations

will-o'-the-wisp

[ˈwɪləðəˈwɪsp] N (lit) → fuego m fatuo (fig) → quimera f

will-o'-the-wisp

[ˌwɪləðəˈwɪsp] n (= elusive person, thing) → feu follet m

will-o'-the-wisp

[ˌwɪləðəˈwɪsp] n (also) (fig) → fuoco fatuo
References in classic literature ?
Unto a life which I call natural I would gladly follow even a will-o'-the-wisp through bogs and sloughs unimaginable, but no moon nor firefly has shown me the causeway to it.
T ain't ABUSE exactly, I know, or 't wouldn't be to some o' your elephant-hided young ones; but to that little tender will-o'-the-wisp a hard word 's like a lash.
And, along the winding alleys, I followed the skipping and dancing white frill, a sort of will-o'-the-wisp, that showed me the way among the trees.
Here in thy loneliness the eglantine Weaves her sweet tapestries above thy head, While blow across thy bed, Moist with the dew of heaven, the breezes chill: Fire-fly, will-o'-the-wisp, and wandering star Glow in thy gloom, and naught is heard but the far Chanting of woodman and shepherd from the hill, Naught but the startled bird is seen Soaring away in the moonland sheen, Or the hulk of the scampering beast that fears Their plaintive lays as, to and fro, The pallid singers go.
I may be on the trail in this matter, or I may be following a will-o'-the-wisp, but I shall soon know which it is.
There was quite a bewildering succession of drives, dances, picnics and boating parties, all expressively lumped together by Phil under the head of "jamborees"; Alec and Alonzo were so constantly on hand that Anne wondered if they ever did anything but dance attendance on that will-o'-the-wisp of a Phil.
He was a man of little imaginative force, yet the white face of a dying man seemed suddenly to have floated up out of the darkness, to have come to him like a will-o'-the-wisp from the swamp, and the hollow, lifeless eyes seemed ever to be seeking his, mournful and eloquent with dull reproach.
After this, it seemed to Katharine that the book became a wild dance of will-o'-the-wisps, without form or continuity, without coherence even, or any attempt to make a narrative.
If my future were black, it was better surely to face it like a man than to attempt to brighten it by mere will-o'-the-wisps of the imagination.
The show - the story - begins with Maria, "a flibbertigibbet, a will-o'-the-wisp, a clown", hurtling back to the abbey where, given her shocking time-keeping, she is clearly in vain pursuit of a career as a nun.
It was a skilful run at Grimsby which gave him the chance - and a brave run because he had to win a 50-50 against their centre-back and Joe is a bit of a will-o'-the-wisp really with his build - and it was a shame he hit the post when he should have scored.
We often reflect on the golden rugby age of the '70s as if it was an era conjured randomly out of Welsh mythology - all will-o'-the-wisp individual brilliance.