Fata Morgana

Fata Morgana

[Italian fah-tah mawr-gah-nah]
noun
Meteorology. a mirage consisting of multiple images, as of cliffs and buildings, that are distorted and magnified to resemble elaborate castles, often seen near the Straits of Messina.

Origin:
1810–20; < Italian, translation of Morgan le Fay, associated in literature with magical castles

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Fata Morgana (ˈfɑːtə mɔːˈɡɑːnə, Italian ˈfaːta mɔrˈɡaːna)
 
n
a mirage, esp one in the Strait of Messina attributed to the sorcery of Morgan le Fay
 
[C19: from Italian: Morgan le Fay]

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Word Origin & History

Fata Morgana
1818, lit. "Fairy Morgana," mirage especially common in the Strait of Messina, Italy, from Morgana, the "Morgan le Fay" of Anglo-Fr. poetry, sister of King Arthur, located in Calabria by Norman settlers. Morgan is Welsh, "sea-dweller." There is perhaps, too, here an infl. of Arabic marjan, lit. "pearl,"
also a fem. proper name, popularly the name of a sorceress.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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