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[wisp] /wɪsp/
a handful or small bundle of straw, hay, or the like.
any thin tuft, lock, mass, etc.:
wisps of hair.
a thin puff or streak, as of smoke; slender trace.
a person or thing that is small, delicate, or barely discernible:
a mere wisp of a lad; a wisp of a frown.
a whisk broom.
Chiefly British Dialect.
  1. a pad or twist of straw, as used to rub down a horse.
  2. a twisted bit of straw used as a torch.
a will-o'-the-wisp or ignis fatuus.
verb (used with object)
to twist into a wisp.
Origin of wisp
1300-50; Middle English wisp, wips; akin to wipe
Related forms
wisplike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for wisp
  • The goatee was gone, but the thin wisp of a moustache was evidence of my longing for manhood.
  • She gazes at the viewer, her face showing a wisp of a smile that seems to have been coaxed from off-camera.
  • For more than a generation, physicists have been chasing a will-o'-the-wisp called string theory.
  • He grasped at a wisp of music that had been winding through his dream, but it was gone.
  • The chocolate offers only a wisp of cocoa flavor and the lemon bears a strongly artificial note.
  • If the foregoing gives the impression that this film is no wisp of gossamer, our opinion has been verily transmitted.
  • The wisp of yet another thought floats by and evaporates.
British Dictionary definitions for wisp


a thin, light, delicate, or fibrous piece or strand, such as a streak of smoke or a lock of hair
a small bundle, as of hay or straw
anything slender and delicate: a wisp of a girl
a mere suggestion or hint
a flock of birds, esp snipe
(intransitive) often foll by away. to move or act like a wisp
(transitive) (mainly Brit, dialect) to twist into a wisp
(transitive) (mainly Brit) to groom (a horse) with a wisp of straw, etc
Derived Forms
wisplike, adjective
Word Origin
C14: variant of wips, of obscure origin; compare wipe


noun acronym
Wireless Information Service Provider: an internet service provider set up to deal with and deliver internet services to clients through wireless access points
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for wisp

c.1300, "handful or bundle of hay, grass, etc.," used for burning or cleaning or as a cushion; perhaps from an unrecorded Old English word, cognate with Norwegian and Swedish visp "wisp," of unknown origin; sometimes said to be connected with whisk or with Middle Low German and Middle Dutch wispel "a measure of grain." Meaning "thin, filmy portion" first attested 1836.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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wisp in Technology

["An Experiment with a Self-Compiling Compiler for a Simple List-Processing Language", M.V. Wilkes, Ann Rev Automatic Programming 4:1-48. (1964)].

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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