Skip to main content
Select Source:

Wraith

Wraith

The apparition or double of a living person, generally supposed to be an omen of death. The wraith closely resembles its prototype in the flesh, even to details of dress. There are accounts of people seeing their own wraith, and among those who were warned of approaching death in this way are said to be Queen Elizabeth I, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Catherine of Russia. The latter, seeing her double seated upon the throne, ordered her guards to fire upon it.

But wraiths of others may appear to one or more persons. Lord Balcarres of Scotland saw the wraith of his friend "Bonnie Dundee" at the moment when the latter fell at the Battle of Killiecrankie, and the poet Ben Jonson saw his eldest son's double when the original was dying of the plague.

The belief in the wraith flourishes in Europe, and in different parts of Britain it goes under different names, such as "waff," "swarth," "task," and "fye." Variants are the Irish " fetch, " and the Welsh "lledrith."

In Scotland it was believed that the wraith of one about to die might be seen wrapped in a shroud. The higher the shroud reached, the nearer was the approach of death.

Something analogous to wraith-seeing comes within the scope of modern psychical science, and the apparition is explained in various ways, as an astral projection or an emanation from the person of its living prototype.

A well-known case is that of the Birkbeck Ghost, when three children witnessed the apparition of their mother shortly before her death. This instance, reported in Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research (vol. 1, 1882, pp. 121-122), is noteworthy because Mrs. Birkbeck was conscious before she died of having spent the time with her children.

(See also J. W. Goethe ; Vardo/gr )

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Wraith." Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 Feb. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Wraith." Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 24, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/wraith

"Wraith." Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. . Retrieved February 24, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/wraith

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

wraith

wraith / rā[unvoicedth]/ • n. a ghost or ghostlike image of someone, esp. one seen shortly before or after their death. ∎  used in similes and metaphors to describe a pale, thin, or insubstantial person or thing: heart attacks had reduced his mother to a wraith. ∎ poetic/lit. a wisp or faint trace of something: a sea breeze was sending a gray wraith of smoke up the slopes. DERIVATIVES: wraith·like / -ˌlīk/ adj.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"wraith." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 Feb. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"wraith." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 24, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/wraith-0

"wraith." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved February 24, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/wraith-0

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

wraith

wraith XVI (orig. Sc.). of unkn. orig.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"wraith." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 Feb. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"wraith." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 24, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/wraith-1

"wraith." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Retrieved February 24, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/wraith-1

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

wraith

wraithfaith, Galbraith, inter-faith, wraith

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"wraith." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 Feb. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"wraith." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 24, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/wraith

"wraith." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved February 24, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/wraith

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.