Definition of wraith in US English:



  • 1A ghost or ghostlike image of someone, especially one seen shortly before or after their death.

    • ‘The form stepped forward out of the corner, condensing from the darkness into a head, shoulders, and indiscernible body cloaked in some material light and impatient in movement as the summer wraiths in this part of the world.’
    • ‘Dalrion appeared out of the shadows to my left, reminding me strongly of a wraith - mysterious and silent.’
    • ‘In keeping with the Batman myth established in the 30's comics, Wayne Senior is killed in a random street robbery, surviving only as a moral wraith tormenting the conscience of his orphaned son.’
    • ‘It wasn't the wordless lyrics of death of the wraith, but it was very close, and Jeremy had the sickening feeling that it was a call to arms.’
    • ‘They had their hoods drawn in the manner of their kind, and like vultures over a battlefield or perhaps like wraiths over a grave, they hovered over him to see if he was hurt.’
    • ‘I could almost see the wraith of our dear ‘Elder Brother’ hovering over them.’
    • ‘He was also superstitious, explaining that the fox's tail he fastened to his saddle was for good luck, and the blue and brown beads he wore around his wrist were meant to ward off wraiths and evil spirits.’
    • ‘Moreover fictional ghosts take many forms, from the recognizably human to the fearfully alien: insubstantial wraiths, or corporeal creatures with the ability to inflict gross physical harm.’
    • ‘Loyd says he has been personally informed by an actual ghost that these wraiths are ‘balls of energy,’ so masses of meters and detectors would seem essential to such investigations.’
    • ‘The faces of Efia, Ynsandrailia, Kjarian, and Zlatthanalian were within the dream, but they were faded, like wraiths.’
    • ‘In his mythology, those who use the Ring will become disembodied wraiths, but will still have physical as well as spiritual powers.’
    • ‘Finally satisfied with the job that they had done, Loren and his militia gunmen gathered up their weapons and disappeared like wraiths into the darkness.’
    • ‘The stage is designer Andy Klunder's evocation of a World War I blue remembered battlefield, peopled by a ghostly lost generation in sad tin hats and mouldy cloth, their women anonymous wraiths in caps and shrouds.’
    • ‘She was filled with a strange mixture of awe and fear at seeing Erik's skill with the sword, almost that he wasn't a man at all, but a ghostly night wraith.’
    • ‘Once inside the building, both Evoke and Max could feel the spirits and wraiths, but Evoke could feel the more powerful ones.’
    • ‘The wraiths and phantoms creep under your carpets and between the warp and weft of fabric, they lurk in wardrobes and lie flat under drawer-liners.’
    • ‘As far into the distance as I'm able to see there are ghosts and wraiths, rank upon rank of them, progressively grey and formless, still, silent, and waiting with solemn eyes to see what we will do with the world they left behind them.’
    • ‘Despite the insubstantial nature of the wraith, it appeared opaque enough, and stood in the center of the study's hardwood floor with its wings fully outstretched.’
    • ‘In Tolkien's mythical Middle Earth, evil is personified by Sauron, a dark wraith whose shadow reaches out for the one ring of power he can use to bring every living creature under his dominion.’
    • ‘Instead, the Moon Beings became like wraiths, cloudy figures always shrouded by a misty covering-willing to do anything their master asked.’
    ghost, spectre, spirit, phantom, apparition, manifestation, vision, shadow, presence, poltergeist, supernatural being
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Used in reference to a pale, thin, or insubstantial person or thing.
      ‘heart attacks had reduced his mother to a wraith’
      • ‘I encountered layers of airborne mist and fog on the Taunton road, quite thick in the hollows but mostly wisping across at about head height, caught in the headlights and looking like wraiths and ghosties in the night.’
      • ‘The wandering wraiths, addicts and drunks that you see around town didn't just come about out of the blue - they were produced by the education system.’
      • ‘The faintest noise, it sounded like the creeping of some wraith.’
      • ‘Sylvia enters first, a wraith of a girl, her clothing falling on her as it might on a hanger, no conceivable form underneath.’
      • ‘Mist brooded on the cerulean-green sea like incandescent wraiths, yet the sky was a faint blush of cerulean, and the diluted sun was indolently mountaineering the stairway into the heavens.’
      • ‘In contrast to these girthy ladies, other Blackwood women are wraiths and ambulating phantoms, eaten up by anxieties and rage.’
      • ‘By the time she made it to the 2000 Grammy Awards, she was literally a shadow, or perhaps even a wraith, of her former self.’
      • ‘Willis was in his early twenties: a short wiry man, thin like a wraith with black hair and a large wart on the side of his nose.’
      • ‘Most appropriately, she looked like a wraith, thin and stooped, with dark, tragic eyes.’
      • ‘Mysore in those days had the eternal odour of horse-dung and urine, of jasmine and masala dosa and of coffee and cow-dung cake whose smoke rose in blue whirls like wraiths melting in the sun.’
      • ‘No trace, only my cigarette smoke, hovering like a wraith, betrayed my presence by leaving the shadow of its scent as it passed through drab walls.’
      • ‘We who lived in the suburbs of towns that were themselves anonymous and mediocre were exiles from the city's Real: insubstantial wraiths, resigned to our status as non-beings.’
      • ‘It shows the old fellow faded away almost to a wraith.’
      • ‘It broke Eleanora's heart to see her daughter become that wraith of her former self.’
      • ‘Now we were driving through bleak glens with stunted conifers, gushing ice-melt streams and mist snagged in tattered veils on the crags like the wraiths of lost warriors.’
      • ‘Her voice was tired, but she was starting to look like her usual self instead of the pale, thin wraith she had been.’
      • ‘Yet she remains a wraith of a character, a glimpse.’
      • ‘It's powerful, unsettling stuff, those thin wraiths marching off to war.’
      • ‘A tall black wraith of a man with one missing eye put his hand out for alms and on getting it launched into a spiel of how he fought to defend the right of God in the Civil War.’
      • ‘Treading silently like tigers on the prowl, they slipped into the silky black shadows, blending into the night like wraiths.’
    2. 1.2literary A wisp or faint trace of something.
      ‘a sea breeze was sending a gray wraith of smoke up the slopes’
      • ‘I had never seen the rancher, who lived in the thrown-together compound of unmatched buildings down by the river, only a thin wraith of smoke coiling out of his chimney.’
      • ‘One or two were wobbling along on bicycles, throwing up thin wraiths of dust in their wake.’
      • ‘Just a wraith of cloud over Rangitoto at 0615 and then a partial eclipse kicked in.’
      • ‘But in the end it is fascinating, as Pilate's figure swirls before us, a wraith of smoke whose shape shifts with each new attempt to grasp it.’
      • ‘As in the four other pictures, one glimpses a passing figure, perhaps the wraith of paganism.’


Early 16th century (originally Scots): of unknown origin.