Word of the Day

Friday, October 31, 2003


\RAYTH\ , noun;
An apparition of a living person seen before death; hence, an apparition; a specter; a ghost.
A shadowy or insubstantial form, appearance, or representation of something.
The poet who dreams up this endless series of impersonations comes to seem like a . . . wraith, haunting the ruins of vanished eras.
-- Mark Ford, "Cast in bronze", The Guardian, October 25, 2003
So now I return to drag myself through another week, a mere wraith, palely loitering, quietly sighing, yearning desperately for something out of life that while it is expected has already passed, together with the youth, with the strength, with the romance of illusions.
-- Michael Dirda, "Dirda on Books", Washington Post, May 22, 2002
Szpilman, now a starved, bearded wraith, clings to a tin of pickles with the absurd tenacity of a Samuel Beckett antihero.
-- Colin Covert, "Polanski's 'The Pianist' takes place in Holocaust-era Poland", Star Tribune, January 3, 2003
Some seemingly causeless depression hung about it -- a wraith of the passion that filled it throughout the last night that George Minafer spent there.
-- Booth Tarkington, The Magnificent Ambersons
Wraith is from Scottish warth, probably originally "a guardian angel, hence a person's ghost seen -- as a warning or means of protection -- immediately before death, hence any apparition," from Old Norse vörthr, "watcher, guardian."
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