will-o'-the-wisp NOUN 1) a phosphorescent light seen hovering or floating at night on marshy ground, thought to result from the combustion of natural gases. 2) a person or thing that is difficult or impossible to reach or catch.
ORIGIN originally as Will with the wisp, the sense of wisp being «handful of lighted hay».

English terms dictionary. 2015.

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  • will-o'-the-wisp — [wil′ə thə wisp′] n. [earlier Will with the wisp < Will (nickname for WILLIAM1) + WISP] 1. JACK O LANTERN (sense 1) 2. any hope or goal that leads one on but is impossible to reach …   English World dictionary

  • will-o'-the-wisp — 1660s, earlier Will with the wisp (c.1600), from the masc. proper name Will + wisp bundle of hay or straw used as a torch …   Etymology dictionary

  • Will-o'-the-wisp — n. See {Ignis fatuus}. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • will-o'-the-wisp — Something that deceives by its appearance is a will o’ the wisp; it looks good, but turns out to be a disappointment …   The small dictionary of idiomes

  • will-o'-the-wisp — will o the wisp; will o the wisp·ish; …   English syllables

  • will i the wisp — will i(n) the wisp see will o the wisp …   Useful english dictionary

  • will in the wisp — will i(n) the wisp see will o the wisp …   Useful english dictionary

  • will o' the wisp — [ ,wıl əðə wısp ] noun count 1. ) LITERARY something that is impossible to achieve 2. ) LITERARY someone you cannot depend on 3. ) a blue light caused by burning gases that you sometimes see at night over wet ground …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • will o' the wisp — n [C usually singular] 1.) someone that you can never completely depend on, or something that you can never achieve 2.) a blue moving light caused by natural gases, that can be seen over wet ground at night …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Will-o'-the-wisp — For other uses, see Will o the wisp (disambiguation). Will o the wisp Phenomenon An 1882 oil painting of a will o the wisp by Arnold Böcklin See also …   Wikipedia

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