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EnglishEdit

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EtymologyEdit

Will (male given name) + of + the + wisp (bundle of straw or hay used as a torch)[1]

NounEdit

will o' the wisp (plural will o' the wisps)

  1. (British folklore) A strange light that attracts travellers from pathways into dangerous marshes or graveyards.
  2. (idiomatic) A delusionary or otherwise unachievable goal that one feels compelled to pursue.
    • 1992 March 2, Richard Preston, The New Yorker, "The Mountains of Pi":
      I happen to think the brothers’ pi project is a will-o’-the-wisp, and is one of the least interesting things they’ve ever done. But what do I know?

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