Wight

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Wight
GroupingLegendary creature
Sub groupingUndead
Similar creaturesGhost, wraith
CountryEngland
 
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Wight
GroupingLegendary creature
Sub groupingUndead
Similar creaturesGhost, wraith
CountryEngland

Wight is a Middle English word, from Old English wiht, and used to describe a creature or living sentient being. It is akin to Old High German wiht, meaning a creature or thing.[1][2]

In its original usage the word wight described a living human being.[3] More recently, the word has been used within the fantasy genre of literature to describe undead or wraith-like creatures: corpses with a part of their decayed soul still in residence, often draining life from their victims. Notable examples of this include the undead Barrow-wights from the works of J. R. R. Tolkien and the level-draining wights of Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game.

The English word is cognate with other Germanic words such as Dutch wicht, German Wicht, Old Norse vættr, Norwegian vette, Swedish vätte, Danish vætte. Modern High German Wicht means 'small person, dwarf,' and also 'unpleasant person,' while in Low German the word means 'girl.' The Wicht, Wichtel or Wichtelchen of Germanic folklore is most commonly translated into English as an imp, a small, shy character who often does helpful domestic chores when nobody is looking (as in the Tale of the Cobbler's Shoes). These terms are not related to the English word witch. In Scandinavian folklore, too, wights are elusive creatures not unlike elves, capable of mischief as well as of help. In German and Dutch language the word Bösewicht or Booswicht points out an evildoer, "Bösewichte haben keine Lieder" means they (do not make merry) are unpleasant folk.

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels by George R. R. Martin, wights are a category of undead creatures, usually humans or animals who have been killed and turned by the White Walkers (aka the Others) or by other wights. They have pallid skin, black hands, and fierce ice-blue eyes, and are described as being virtually impervious to all forms of attack, even forcibly amputated limbs are described as having sentience. Their only weaknesses are obsidian or Valyrian steel weapons and fire.[4]

In literature and culture[edit]

Examples of the word used in classic English literature and poetry:

 * George Gordon, Lord Byron (1812-1816), Childe Harolds' Pilgrimage Canto 1, verse : 

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Merriam-Webster, 1974.
  2. ^ T. F. HOAD. "wight." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. 1996. Retrieved May 19, 2010 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O27-wight.html
  3. ^ Wight, in the Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, 1974 edition.
  4. ^ http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Wight#Weakness
  5. ^ Gygax, Gary, and Dave Arneson. Dungeons & Dragons (3-Volume Set) (TSR, 1974)