- , /ɹeɪθs/, /reITs/
- Rhymes with: -eɪθs
A wraith is an apparition of a person, living or
dead, that may appear shortly before or after death. The appearance
of a wraith is often considered to be an omen
The word "wraith" is first attested in 1513, with
the meaning of "ghost
" (that is, an
apparition of a living or once-living being, possibly as a portent
of death). In 18th century
it was applied to aquatic spirits. Over time, it came to be used in
a metaphoric sense to refer to wraith-like things, and to portents
The word may be of Scots
origin, possibly through Old Norse
meaning "guardian" (cf.
the Modern English
"warden"), and related to Irish
arrach, meaning "apparition". An association with the verb
" has also been
author J. R. R.
held this view http://www.greenmanreview.com/book/book_shippey_tolkien.html
whose use of the word in the naming of the creatures known as the
influenced creators of fantasy and horror
novels, television shows, and games, who use it with its meaning of
a shadow-thing, a spirit of another world, or more generally a
mysterious being to be feared.
''The wraith is a being of power, controlled by a
greater spirit to do the creatures will. These creatures are
shadows, floating amongst our realm with no purpose but that of
their masters. They feed on humans, their emotions and their own
strength, without these they would cease to exist.'' Information
considering their lesser-known qualities is difficult to
The classic depiction of a wraith is identical to
the image of a tall, humanoid figure shrouded in a black cloak,
under which no face can be seen, though a hand protrudes. The word
"wraith" is also used in modern fiction to signify the shifting
wraiths of T.A. Barron's book series
The Lost Years of Merlin
and the mortiwraiths of Wayne Thomas
Door Within Trilogy
. Whereas the shifting wraith is a bestial,
snake-like predator able to change itself into the form of any
animal, albeit always having a feature uncharacteristic thereof,
the mortiwraith is an anthropomorphically intelligent, gigantic,
cave-dwelling, extremely photosensitive, but also snake-like
predator having creased, furry ears, poisonous blood, and many
clawed legs whose quantity increases with the passage of every five
years. The use of the word "wraith" for either of these is not
explained by either author in the respective story, though it may
relate to the word "writhe".
In European pagan
wraith is seen as a spirit of vengeance. They are said to be
ghostly figures with long, sharp fingers. Wraiths are considered
rare amongst the spirit realm, for they consist of pure revenge;
yet not all wraiths will be truly vengeful, in that some are merely
enraged to the extent of destroying anything they encounter.
In a local legend of Cornwall
Polbreen Mine is said to be haunted by a wraith named Dorcas.
In other corners of the world, the wraith is
considered to be the reflected image of a person, seen immeditately
before death. This side is supported by elders' stories.
A wraith is also described as an image seen
immediately before one dies, as if it were a variation of the
Wraiths in Media
The Ghost of Christmas Future featured in
Charles Dickens' A
resembles the classic idea of a wraith, and
seems to exemplify it.
In the 1986 film "The Wraith
Charlie Sheen plays as Jake Kesey, a man who was brutally murdered
and comes back from the dead to take vengeance on those who were
involved in the killing.
In The Elder Scrolls : Oblivion wraiths are
spirits of defiled, fallen soldiers (such as Sir Berich in the KOTN
which appear in the Stargate
TV series are, much like the wraiths seen in other
fantasy media except they are more human like than others, depicted
to "feed" on the very essence of humans and have the ability to age
The Wraith is a Covenant
tank in Halo
is a role-playing
published by White Wolf
in which players may play the roles of fictional,
long-dead wraiths in the Underworld, which exists parallel to the
living world of mankind.
The CF/A-17 Wraith is a Terran
in the popular computer
. It is
armed with Gemini Air-to-Air Missile
s and a 25mm
attacks. Newer CF/A-17G Wraiths feature a built-in cloaking
s can be considered wraiths, as they conform to the
popular description of a shrouded being without a face, with long
corpse-like hands that glisten like rotted flesh. These beings feed
on living emotion, draining all happiness from a person. They are
able to draw the soul of a person through the "Dementor's kiss,"
wherein the dementor pulls the person's soul from its body,
seemingly through the mouth. In the first three books of the
series, these creatures guard the wizard prison Azkaban, but later
go on to join forces with the Dark Lord
features a masked, wraithlike figure of ambiguous origin
appropriately called No Face. At first he appears meek and
compassionate, but when exposed to the activity in the public
bathhouse, wherein are many greedy individuals, he becomes a
monster who consumes anything edible. When removed from the
bathhouse and exposed to kindness, he resumes his meek demeanor.
Like the wraith of popular mythology
, he 'feeds' on the
emotions and personalities of those around him, often assuming
their voices or features.
Riders in Tolkien's The
Lord of the Rings
are called "Ringwraiths". They are not
ghosts, but rather men corrupted to the extent of becoming phantoms
by the Rings of Power they wear.
In the PS2 game Primal
two of the main antagonists are Raum and his wife Empusa, who are
of Wraith-race. The main character, Jen, can also transform into a
In the Nintendo
game Pikmin 2
is a boss, named the Waterwraith
that resembles a wraith formed from water. It travels on two stone
cylinders like a steamroller.
In Soul Sabre, an uncommon PC game released out
of Denmark in 1999, the enemies of the game are called Wraiths, but
are actually artificial humans created in a laboratory.
(Legacy of Kain)
is a wraith. As he was resurrected by the
he would defy him. It seemed unbound creatures had
free will. Wraiths in this series are the souls of vampires trapped
in the inmaterial realm for so long they have adapted to drain the
essence of other souls
Prince of Persia: Warrior Within
, the prince puts on the Mask
of the Wraith to become the sand-wraith, a doppelgänger that grants
the Prince unlimited use of the Sands of Time but slowly drains his
life away, again conforming to the idea of a wraith taking
In the Warhammer Fantasy Battle wargame, Wraiths
are Hero-level characters in the Vampire Counts army, appearing
like shrouded skeletons armed with scythes.
Wraiths are a mid-level enemy in the MMORPG
Heroes of Might and Magic III: The Restoration of Erathia
, the Necropolis faction can recruit wraiths, which are the
upgraded form of the Wight
, and appear as
floating cloaked figures, with glowing blue light emanating from
under their hoods, wielding scythes. This bears a resemblance to
the symbolic representation of death known as the Grim Reaper.
Their upgraded form is the banshee
Ashok K. Banker's novelization of the Ramayana
vetaal, which resembles the traditional wraith in that it drains
away the essence of a human being, gradually changing the human
into a creature like itself. Like the Ringwraiths, vetaals were
human until this transformation occurred.
In the Hyperion
universe, 'wraith' is the name given to a species of
large carnivore on the frozen planet Sol Draconi Septem.
, the Wraith is a Necron
soldier capable of shredding enemy units with its sharp fingertips
and slipping through physical matter. They are the less morbid
cousin of the Flayed Ones
It is little more than an upper torso and spine. In the game
Wraiths are flying creatures found in the spirit world after the
main character dies. By shooting them using a longbow, the
character can replenish quantities of his health and energy.
In the Lost Kingdoms (rune) series of games,
wraiths are described as undead sorcerers that pound their enemies
with innumerable chunks of ice. As a wild monster, it can use the
icicle and ice storm attacks. As a card, it only retains a weaker
version of it's ice storm. However, thirty-percent of the damage it
deals is returned to the summoner as life.
There is also a movie called Wraiths
that can be watched on the SciFi channel.
In the television show
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
, The Pah-Wraiths are the evil
counterparts of the Bajoran gods known as The Prophets. They are
somewhat equivalent to the Devil.
In the mythology of Insane
, The Wraith is the face of the sixth Joker's
Card, and presents two exhibits to listeners: Shangri-La
. The Shangri-La Wraith is actually the demon Wraith, and
shows you a preview of Shangri-La (Heaven). However, he can pull
you away and take you down to Hell's Pit. The Hell's Pit Wraith is
the good Wraith, and he shows you what Hell is like to help you
change your ways and get into Shangri-La.
In the musical 'The Dracula Spectacula' written
, Dracula's Mother is named Wraith.
wraiths in Spanish: Alma en pena
wraiths in French: Waith (esprit)
wraiths in Russian: Рэйф