will-o'-the-wisp


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will-o'-the-wisp,

phenomenon known also as ignis fatuus and jack-o'-lantern. It is seen at night as a pale, flickering light over marshland. There is no generally accepted explanation for it; it may result from the spontaneous ignition of gases (e.g., methane) produced by the disintegration of dead plant or animal matter, or it may be a form of phosphorescence. The eerie lights have given rise to many superstitions.
References in periodicals archive ?
A strange glow, like a will-o'-the-wisp, flickers in her eyes.
The fox your will-o'-the-wisp character possesses to complete its quest bounds handsomely over picturesque landscapes peppered with environmental puzzles that require switching between seasons to overcome - water levels rise in spring, while winter freezes create ice platforms to climb up to plants, which unfurl only in summer.
There are straightforward scientific explanations of other natural phenomenon, such as the will-o'-the-wisp described in "Irrlicht" and the sundogs seen by the narrator in "Die Nebensonnen."
The show - the story - begins with Maria, "a flibbertigibbet, a will-o'-the-wisp, a clown", hurtling back to the abbey where, given her shocking time-keeping, she is clearly in vain pursuit of a career as a nun.
"It was a skilful run at Grimsby which gave him the chance - and a brave run because he had to win a 50-50 against their centre-back and Joe is a bit of a will-o'-the-wisp really with his build - and it was a shame he hit the post when he should have scored.
They are now disappointed to see that their hope has turned out to be a will-o'-the-wisp.
And the direction of Josep Pons, a conductor whose tidy beat encourages rather than dictates what goes on in the ranks, enabled a much reduced CBSO to relish the score's transparency and its opportunities for individual display, notably in the Pantomime (lovely cello solo from Richard Jenkinson) and Will-o'-the-Wisp numbers.
We did not understand our enemy, a will-o'-the-wisp guerrilla foe who went to ground as we passed through.
The United States, too, has been spending vast sums trying to buy various Yemeni factions, chasing the will-o'-the-wisp of an ever-elusive alliance.
The trail is only accessible by means of careful research and even then difficult to tell if a glimmer is light or will-o'-the-wisp. Philologists did construct new texts and alter old ones, outraging institutional authorities who considered textual tampering unforgiveable.