from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. An apparition of a living person that appears as a portent just before that person's death.
- n. The ghost of a dead person.
- n. Something shadowy and insubstantial.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. A ghost or specter, especially seen just after a person's death.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. An apparition of a person in his exact likeness, seen before death, or a little after; hence, an apparition; a specter; a vision; an unreal image.
- n. Sometimes, improperly, a spirit thought to preside over the waters; -- called also water wraith.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. An apparition in the exact likeness of a person, supposed to be seen before or soon after the person's death; in general, a visible spirit; a specter; a ghost.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. a mental representation of some haunting experience
Origin unknown.(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
The first attestation dates to 1513, in the Mid. Scottish translation alone of Aeneid: "Nor ᵹit na vayn wrathys nor gaiftis quent Thi char conftrenyt bakwart forto went," "Syklyke as that, thai fay, in diuers placis The wraithis walkis of goiftis that ar ded," "Thydder went this wrath or fchaddo of Ene, That femyt, all abafyt, faft to fle,". (Wiktionary)