Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A small bunch or bundle, as of straw, hair, or grass.
  • noun One that is thin, frail, or slight.
  • noun A thin or faint streak or fragment, as of smoke or clouds.
  • noun A fleeting trace or indication; a hint.
  • noun A flock of birds, especially snipe.
  • intransitive verb To twist into wisps or a wisp.
  • intransitive verb To drift in wisps.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To brush, dress, or rub down with or as with a wisp.
  • To rumple.
  • noun A handful or small bundle, as of straw or hay; a twisted handful.
  • noun A whisk, or small broom.
  • noun An ignis fatuus, or will-o'-the-wisp.
  • noun A disease in cattle, consisting in inflammation and suppuration of the interdigital tissues, most commonly of the hind feet.
  • noun In falconry, a flight or walk of snipe.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A small bundle, as of straw or other like substance.
  • noun A whisk, or small broom.
  • noun A Will-o'-the-wisp; an ignis fatuus.
  • transitive verb To brush or dress, an with a wisp.
  • transitive verb Prov. Eng. To rumple.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A small bundle, as of straw or other like substance; any slender, flexible structure or group.
  • verb To brush or dress, as with a wisp.
  • verb UK, dialect To rumple.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a small person
  • noun a small tuft or lock
  • noun a flock of snipe
  • noun a small bundle of straw or hay

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Middle English; akin to Middle Dutch/Middle Low German wispel 'measure of grain', Norwegian bokmål/Swedish/Bornholm Danish visp 'handful or bundle of grass, hay, etc'.

Examples

  • And finally we see the spirit -- delicate, ethereal, a "faint ochre-colored cloud", a "thin wisp", "motes of dust dancing in the narrow beams of the robot's gaze" -- put into the robot/car, merged with it and transforming it into a deeply strange fusion of robot, automobile and rock.

    Archive 2008-02-01

  • And finally we see the spirit -- delicate, ethereal, a "faint ochre-colored cloud", a "thin wisp", "motes of dust dancing in the narrow beams of the robot's gaze" -- put into the robot/car, merged with it and transforming it into a deeply strange fusion of robot, automobile and rock.

    Strange Fiction in the Marketplace

  • You don’t see that subverting all the hard earned rights of americans, to protect against a will o the wisp is clearly unpatriotic?

    Think Progress » Rep. King: NYT Reporters Should Be Charged Under Espionage Act

  • A flock of snipe is called a wisp, although you usually flush them in singles and pairs.

    How to Hunt Snipe With a Shotgun

  • One such will o' the wisp was the claim in various Scottish media that the billionaire might join an investment group in refurbishing Lews Castle as a luxury hotel.

    Trump Office Scoffs At Scottish Castle Rumors

  • Self-evidence is often a mere will-o'-the-wisp, which is sure to lead us astray if we take it as our guide.

    Mysticism and Logic and Other Essays

  • Another assumption about the Levy on Capital that seems to me to be the merest will o 'the wisp is the delusion that the whole saving that it would entail by reducing the debt charge would necessarily and certainly go to the relief of income tax.

    War-Time Financial Problems

  • The old feudal lords would swear by the Almighty Father, or the Son, or Holy Ghost, or by everything sacred on earth, and break their oaths as they would break a wisp of straw: but if you could get one of them to swear by the Three Kings of Cologne, he was fast; for that oath he dare not disregard.

    The Complete Project Gutenberg Writings of Charles Dudley Warner

  • In olden days, it was personified as "Will with the wisp," a sprite who carried a fleeting "wisp" of light.

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day

  • In olden days, it was personified as "Will with the wisp," a sprite who carried a fleeting "wisp" of light.

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day

Comments

New comments are temporarily disabled while we update our database.

  • A medicinal marijuana strain name.

    January 15, 2010