A wight (Old English: wiht) is a creature or living sentient being. In its original usage, the word wight described a living human being, but has also come to be used within fantasy to describe certain undead. The earliest example of this usage in English is in William Morris's translation of the Grettis Saga, wherein haugbui is translated as "barrow-wight". Wights also feature in J. R. R. Tolkien's world of Middle-earth, especially in The Lord of the Rings and in George R. R. Martin's HBO television series Game of Thrones and novel series A Song of Ice and Fire. Since its 1974 inclusion in the RPG Dungeons & Dragons, it has become a recurring form of undead in other fantasy games and mods, especially in D&D-based games such as Neverwinter.
Examples in classic English literature and poetry
- Geoffrey Chaucer (1368-1372), The Reeve's Tale, line 4236, The Riverside Chaucer (3rd edition):
- "For [Aleyn] had swonken al the longe nyght, And seyde, 'Fare weel, Malyne, sweete wight!'"
- Geoffrey Chaucer (1368–1372), The Monk's Tale, line 380:
- "She kept her maidenhood from every wight
- To no man deigned she for to be bond."
- Geoffrey Chaucer (1368–1372), The Book of the Duchess, line 579:
- "Worste of alle wightes."
- Geoffrey Chaucer (1368–1372), Prologue of The Knight, line 72-73:
- "Ne neuere yet no vileynye he sayde
- In al his lyf vnto no manere wight.
- He was a verray parfit gentil knyght."
- Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1379-1380), The House of Fame, line 1830-1831:
- "We ben shrewes, every wight,
- And han delyt in wikkednes."
- Edmund Spenser (1590–1596), The Faerie Queene, I.i.6.8-9:
- "That every wight to shrowd it did constrain,
- And this fair couple eke to shroud themselues were fain."
- William Shakespeare (c. 1602), The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act I, Sc. III:
- "O base Hungarian wight! wilt thou the spigot wield?
- William Shakespeare (c. 1603), Othello, Act II, Sc. I:
- "She was a wight, if ever such wight were"
- John Milton (1626), On the Death of a Fair Infant Dying of a Cough, verse vi:
- "Oh say me true if thou wert mortal wight..."
- Church of Scotland (1650), Scots Metrical Psalter, Psalm 18 verse xxvi:
- "froward thou kythst unto the froward wight..."
- John Keats (1820 version), "La Belle Dame Sans Merci":
- Ah what can ail thee, wretched wight,
- Alone and palely loitering;
- Washington Irving (1820), The Legend of Sleepy Hollow:
- "In this by-place of nature there abode, in a remote period of American history, that is to say, some thirty years since, a worthy wight of the name of Ichabod Crane, who sojourned, or, as he expressed it, "tarried," in Sleepy Hollow, for the purpose of instructing the children of the vicinity."
- George Gordon, Lord Byron (1812-1816), Childe Harold's Pilgrimage Canto 1, verse :
- Ah, me! in sooth he was a shamles wight ..." .
- "Wight". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. 1974.
- Hoad, T. F., ed. (1996). "Wight". The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. Retrieved May 19, 2010.
- "Wight". Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary (1974 ed.). Merriam-Webster. 1974.
- Martin. "Chapter 52: Jon". A Game of Thrones. pp. 533–536, 545–548.