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Wisp   Listen
verb
Wisp  v. t.  (past & past part. wisped; pres. part. wisping)  
1.
To brush or dress, an with a wisp.
2.
To rumple. (Prov. Eng.)






Collaborative International Dictionary of English 0.48








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"Wisp" Quotes from Famous Books



... Jim that Cheever accused her of if Jim had been complacent and stealthy. Or, she might have kept Jim at her heels till she was rid of Cheever and then have married him. She would have saved him at least from floundering through the marsh where that Kedzie-o'-the-wisp had led him to ...
— We Can't Have Everything • Rupert Hughes

... believed a better road existed to Monterey by way of the north than by the middle route, and a further incentive to journey that way was probably the rumours of large towns in that direction, the same will-o'-the-wisp the Spaniards for nearly three centuries had been vainly pursuing. The authorities had urged two expeditions to Alta California, to establish communication; Garces and Captain Anza had carried out one, and now Escalante was to execute ...
— The Romance of the Colorado River • Frederick S. Dellenbaugh

... dull and the bright colouring fades to neutral tints in the dust and heat of the day. But when it survives play-days and school-days, circumstances alone determine whether the electric sparkle shall go to play will-o'-the-wisp with the larrikin type, or warm the breasts of the spirited, single-hearted, loyal ones ...
— Seven Little Australians • Ethel Sybil Turner

... was very still now, and the lights glimmered faintly ahead. Not a wisp of cloud brushed ...
— The Insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu • Sax Rohmer

... him a free largess, like grass and water, and this looked like very good hay. So clear a conscience had he on the subject that he never thought of glancing around to see if any of the attendants were looking. Innocently he lurched up to the fence, reached his lithe trunk through, gathered a neat wisp of the hay, and stuffed it happily into his curious, narrow, pointed mouth. Yes, he had not been mistaken. It was good hay. With great satisfaction he reached in for ...
— Kings in Exile • Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts

... light. * * * * * * * * * Never was isle so little, never was sea so lone, But over the scud and the palm-trees an English flag has flown. I have wrenched it free from the halliard to hang for a wisp on the Horn; I have chased it north to the Lizard—ribboned and rolled and torn; I have spread its folds o'er the dying, adrift in a hopeless sea; I have hurled it swift on the slaver, and seen the slave set free. * * * * * * * * * Never the lotos closes, never the wild-fowl ...
— Deeds that Won the Empire - Historic Battle Scenes • W. H. Fitchett

... they stood, hatted and coated, importuning and pressing in upon him, and with a wisp of a smile to the fourth left box, Leon Kantor played them the "Humoresque" of Dvorak, skedaddling, plucking, quirking—that laugh on life with a tear behind it. Then suddenly, because he could escape no other way, rushed straight back for his dressing-room, ...
— Humoresque - A Laugh On Life With A Tear Behind It • Fannie Hurst

... to draw your attention to the word 'Will' in the English word will-o-the-wisp; it must not be supposed that this Will is the abbreviation of William; it is pure Danish, 'Vild'—pronounced will,—and signifies wild; Vilden Visk, the wild or moving wisp. I can adduce another instance of the corruption of the Danish ...
— George Borrow and His Circle - Wherein May Be Found Many Hitherto Unpublished Letters Of - Borrow And His Friends • Clement King Shorter

... note of these facts with superior complacency, quite unmindful, after the fashion of most critical travellers, of the hideous contrast of his own long shapeless nankeen duster, his stiff half-clerical brown straw hat, his wisp of gingham necktie, his dusty boots, his outrageous carpet-bag, and his straggling goat-like beard. A few looked at him in grave, discreet wonder. Whether they recognized in him the advent of a civilization that was destined to supplant their own ...
— The Argonauts of North Liberty • Bret Harte

... turn my eyes to the future that Maggie and I must prove, But the only light on the marshes is the Will-o'-the-Wisp of Love. ...
— The Works of Rudyard Kipling One Volume Edition • Rudyard Kipling

... fenced now and on each bit of parched bottom-land a "nester" has his cabin and is struggling, generally in vain, to dig a living out of the soil in a region which God never made for farming. The treacherous Little Missouri is treacherous still; here and there a burning mine still sends a tenuous wisp toward the blue sky; the buttes have lost none of their wild magnificence; and dawn and dusk, casting long shadows across the coulees, reveal the ...
— Roosevelt in the Bad Lands • Hermann Hagedorn

... old man," I began, "don't you get to thinking that when you hide your own head in the sand no one can see the colour of your feathers. You might as well try to cover up Bunker Hill Monument with a wisp of straw. Don't you suppose I know you love Gwen Darrow? That's what's ...
— The Darrow Enigma • Melvin L. Severy

... Instead of going into the woods, where Mollie had pursued her will-o'-the-wisp, he turned in the opposite direction. It did not dawn on him that she had been led astray ...
— The Automobile Girls in the Berkshires - The Ghost of Lost Man's Trail • Laura Dent Crane

... of condition who writes to her friend may use with dignity. Your digressions and your thoughts are flowers which . . . (forgive an author who pilfers from you the delicious nonchalance of an amiable writer) or . . . a will-o'-the-wisp which, from time to time, issues from the work, in spite of the ...
— The Memoires of Casanova, Complete • Jacques Casanova de Seingalt

... London in an exuberant necktie, a tiny hat; I wore large trousers and a Capoul beard; and I looked, I believe, as unlike an Englishman as a drawing by Grevin. In the smoking-room of Morley's Hotel I met my agent, an immense nose, and a wisp of hair drawn over a bald skull. He explained, after some hesitation, that I owed him a few thousands, and that the accounts were in his portmanteau. I suggested taking them to a solicitor to have them examined. The solicitor advised me strongly to contest ...
— Confessions of a Young Man • George Moore

... Lawyer Baumberger, from the snagged hole in his hat-crown where a wisp of graying hair fluttered through, to the toes of his ungainly, rubber-clad feet; loosely disreputable, but not commonplace and not incompetent. Though his speech might be a slovenly mumble, there was no purposeless fumbling of the fingers that chose a fly ...
— Good Indian • B. M. Bower

... the ribbon, his questing fingers followed it down into his bosom until they touched a little, clumsily-wrought linen bag, that he had fashioned, once upon a time, with infinite trouble and pains, and in which he had been wont to carry the dried-up wisp of what had once been ...
— The Amateur Gentleman • Jeffery Farnol et al

... saw vaguely and that wearied, and in an execution full of uncertain touch and painful effort. Unless the painter is especially endowed with the instinct of anatomies, the sentiment of proportion, and a passion for form, the nude is a will-o'-the-wisp, whose way leads where he may not follow. No one suspects Mr. Watts of one of these qualifications; he appears even to think them of but slight value, and his quest of the allegorical seems to be merely motived by ...
— Modern Painting • George Moore

... her guest, who had taken an aimless prowl round the house, returned once more like a wandering will-o'-the-wisp to the ...
— A harum-scarum schoolgirl • Angela Brazil

... rapidly developing into a strong sturdy lad. He was the joy of the house, and though of a most loveable disposition, he was like a will-o'-the-wisp, full of fun and life. He spent most of the time out of doors in summer among the birds and flowers. There was hardly a creature in the vicinity of the rectory which he did not know. He found birds' nests in the most unlikely places, and he often caused Parson Dan many a ...
— Rod of the Lone Patrol • H. A. Cody

... fancying such a thing. He could not seriously think that this was the cow, because she went along so quietly, behaving just like any other cow. Evidently she neither knew nor cared so much as a wisp of hay about Cadmus, and was only thinking how to get her living along the wayside, where the herbage was green and fresh. Perhaps she was ...
— Myths That Every Child Should Know - A Selection Of The Classic Myths Of All Times For Young People • Various

... soon to settle over England under the Napoleonic regime. But, if many of the English people, weary of the increasing burdens which fell upon them, had their dreams of a good time coming, they, instead of following the mere glimmer of the will-o'-the-wisp, across the darkness of their lot, responded rather to signs of coming activities. Through the darkness they saw perhaps nothing very striking, but they felt occasionally the thrill of coming activities which were ...
— Fragments of Two Centuries - Glimpses of Country Life when George III. was King • Alfred Kingston

... aloud. "After spending the night wandering about morasses like a will-o'-the-wisp, I approach a town at last. Thank Heaven again, and for all its mercies this night! I breathe freely. I ...
— Ernest Maltravers, Complete • Edward Bulwer-Lytton

... into the fen, and for some days he wandered there, eating berries, sleeping on tussocks of grass, with water-snakes crawling over him and poisonous plants shedding their baneful dew on his flesh. He came to the lake at last. A will-o'the-wisp played along the surface. "'Tis she!" he cried. "I see her, standing in the light." Hastily fashioning a raft of cypress boughs he floated it and pushed toward the centre of the pond, but the eagerness of his efforts and the rising of ...
— Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete • Charles M. Skinner

... Episcopalian party into a Royalist party, and placed at its head the Covenanter, Montrose. On the other hand, the National Covenant was transformed into the Solemn League and Covenant, which had for its aim the establishment of Presbytery in England as well as in Scotland. This "will o' the wisp" of covenanted uniformity led the Scottish Church into somewhat strange places. As early as January, 1643, Montrose had offered to strike a blow for the king in Scotland, but Charles would not take the responsibility ...
— An Outline of the Relations between England and Scotland (500-1707) • Robert S. Rait

... of Grand Portage at the mouth of Pigeon River each season, going into that untracked region of romance and dreams where the call of his still sturdy manhood had beckoned him,—how long none might know. And at last he had heeded, laid down the staid, the sane, and followed the will-o'-the-wisp of conquest and adventure that took the ...
— The Maid of the Whispering Hills • Vingie E. Roe

... eyes, a certain desperation of manner, a restless uneasiness, were all diagnostics of insanity, or rather of many forms of insanity. Sometimes a flash of hope gave him the look of a monomaniac; at other times impatient anger at not seizing a secret which flitted before his eyes like a will o' the wisp brought symptoms of madness into his face; or sudden bursts of maniacal laughter betrayed his irrationality: but during the greater part of the time, he was sunk in a state of complete depression which combined all the phases of insanity in the cold melancholy of an idiot. However ...
— The Alkahest • Honore de Balzac

... moment, the devil will carry her away." Perhaps this was the cause of the guard in Jeanne's room, the ceaseless scrutiny to which she was exposed. The vulgar slanderer was allowed to escape after this valuable testimony. She comes into history like a will-o'-the-wisp, one of the marsh lights that mean nothing but putrescence and decay, and then flickers out again with her false witness into the wastes of inanity. That she should have been treated so leniently and Jeanne so cruelly! say ...
— Jeanne d'Arc - Her Life And Death • Mrs.(Margaret) Oliphant

... has been made to Thakur Deo is fined the price of a goat by the village community. Before threshing his corn each cultivator offers a separate sacrifice to Thakur Deo of a goat, a fowl or a broken cocoanut. Each evening, on the conclusion of a day's threshing, a wisp of straw is rubbed on the forehead of each bullock, and a hair is then pulled from its tail, and the hairs and straw made into a bundle are tied to the pole of the threshing-floor. The cultivator prays, 'O God of plenty! enter here full and go out empty.' ...
— The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India - Volume IV of IV - Kumhar-Yemkala • R.V. Russell

... certainly indirect. His plays on the other hand, in the production of which he spent the better part of his life, greatly outweigh his novel both in aesthetic and historical importance. To attempt to estimate Lyly's position as a novelist and as a prose writer is to chase the will-o'-the-wisp of theory over the morass of uncertainty; the task of investigating his comedies is altogether simpler and more straightforward. After groping our way through the undergrowth of minor literature, we come out upon the great highway of Elizabethan art—the drama. Let us first see ...
— John Lyly • John Dover Wilson

... Mr Fawkes should bring grist to our mill," said Gatesby, thoughtfully: "but I see that is but a Will-o'-the-Wisp." ...
— It Might Have Been - The Story of the Gunpowder Plot • Emily Sarah Holt

... sketch, after all, fuller of meaning, to one who knows how to read it, than a finished affair, which is very apt to end with itself, barren of fruit? Does not one's own imagination elude one's power to portray it? Is it not forever flitting will-o'-the-wisp-like ahead of us just beyond exact definition? For the soul of art lies in what art can suggest, and nothing is half so suggestive as the half expressed, not even a double entente. To hint a great deal ...
— The Soul of the Far East • Percival Lowell

... been assailed by doubts and weariness; the path had seemed too long and arduous, and he had secretly pined for some swift issue from perplexity and delay. In such a moment was it that the voice of darkness gained his ear, and, like a will-o'-the-wisp, lured him to calamity. Verily, it is not easy to be God. Only builders of the Tower of Babel know the awfulness ...
— Idolatry - A Romance • Julian Hawthorne

... alcohol lamp died out. Jolly Roger did not look back. Blindly he stumbled ahead, counting his footsteps as he went, and shouting Nada's name. Twice he thought he heard a reply, and each time the will-o'-the-wisp voice seemed to be still farther ahead of him. Then, with a fiercer blast of the wind beating upon his back, he stumbled and fell forward upon his face. His hand reached out and touched the thing that had tripped ...
— The Country Beyond - A Romance of the Wilderness • James Oliver Curwood

... been feeding her up, but yesterday she was quietly taken off, and now knows all things. She had her tobacco up to the last, and died quite quietly.... A wretched sister of yours [addressed to the late Miss Gordon] is struggling up the road, but she is such a wisp of bones that the wind threatens to overthrow her; so she has halted, preferring the rain to being cast down. I have sent her some dhoora, which will produce a spark of joy in her black and withered carcass. I told my man to see her into one of the huts, and thought he had done ...
— The Life of Gordon, Volume I • Demetrius Charles Boulger

... pictures,—Randal Leslie, with an unsatisfactory countenance, from which he could extract nothing; the squire, looking as black as thunder in his study at Hazeldean; his mother trying to plead for him, and getting herself properly scolded for her pains; and then off went that Will-o'-the-wisp which pretended to call itself Thought, and began playing round the pale, charming face of Beatrice di Negra, in the drawing-room at Curzon Street, and repeating, with small elfin voice, Randal Leslie's assurance of the preceding day, "as to her affection for you, Frank, ...
— My Novel, Complete • Edward Bulwer-Lytton

... in the yard in the Rue du Coq, behind the glover's house where he had lain the night before. Then he set out to find supper. The first tavern served his purpose. Above the door was a wisp of red wool, which he knew for the Guise colours. Inside he looked to find a crowd, but there was but one other guest. Paris that night had business, it seemed, which did not ...
— The Path of the King • John Buchan

... all possible blood and dirt brushed or washed from feathers or fur and all shot holes, as well as mouth and nostrils plugged with a wisp of cotton to prevent further soiling. An awl, or piece of wire will be useful for this. Blood should be removed from white fur or feathers as soon as possible or it will be stained more or less. Small birds ...
— Home Taxidermy for Pleasure and Profit • Albert B. Farnham

... peering at him from the dim hallway. In fact, it was no one he had ever seen before. A little old man stood there, a man with ruddy cheeks, a stern mouth, and blue eyes whose sharpness was softened by a moist, far-away expression. From beneath a nautical blue cap strayed a wisp or two of white hair. Otherwise, he was buttoned to his chin in a great coat, fastened with imposing brass ...
— Carl and the Cotton Gin • Sara Ware Bassett

... of expectancy, the ever-alluring idea, that by going a little farther something really uncommon will be found. Points of interest innumerable will be passed in the pursuit of this beautiful will-o'-the-wisp, this perfect composition which never can, and never will, materialize on paper ...
— The Cornish Riviera • Sidney Heath

... dozen stout natives—young, active men—made their appearance. They all had at their backs large baskets bound by withes passing across the forehead and chest. They were but lightly clothed. A small poncho covered their shoulders, and the usual cloth and kilt was worn round the loins, a wisp of leaves preventing their backs being chafed by their burdens. Each man also carried a long staff in his hand, and a bag of roasted corn as provision for the journey. The burdens were soon adjusted. One of them had a sort of chair at his back, which ...
— On the Banks of the Amazon • W.H.G. Kingston

... coverings. Certainly not the enormously rich ... they didn't buy their provocative draperies from show windows. And even the comfortably off might pause, she thought, before throwing a couple of hundred dollars into a wisp of veiling that didn't reach much below the knees and would look like a weather-beaten cobweb after the second wearing. With all this talk about profiteering and economy and the high cost of living, even Helen Starratt had to admit ...
— Broken to the Plow • Charles Caldwell Dobie

... sank till it touched the middle of the reptile's back. The serpent immediately coiled itself in a knot, but was already dead. The jellyfish did not swallow, but completely surrounded its prey, and again rose in the air, with the snake's black body clearly visible within it. "Our Will-o'-the-wisp is prettier by night than by day," said Bearwarden. "I suggest that we investigate this further." "How?" asked Cortlandt. "By destroying its life," replied Bearwarden. "Give it one barrel from your gun, doctor, and see if it can then defy gravitation." Accordingly Cortlandt ...
— A Journey in Other Worlds • J. J. Astor

... up to them. One of them, a thin little skeleton, pitiably ragged in dress, with hollow eyes and white face, was coughing in the cuff of the wind. She was plainly a consumptive—a little wisp of a girl. She spoke brokenly, with a strong ...
— The Nine-Tenths • James Oppenheim

... little tent they had brought, or beneath the blankets under the stars, he slept lightly, awakening often to look at Sue lying beside him. Perhaps the wind had blown a wisp of hair across her face and her breath played with it, tossing it about; perhaps just the quiet of her expressive little face charmed and held him, so that he turned reluctantly to sleep again thinking that he might, with pleasure, go on ...
— Windy McPherson's Son • Sherwood Anderson

... lighted them with weird red and flickering flames. In their depths, cast in black and red shadows, toiled half-guessed figures; from their depths, mounting a single steep plank, came an unbroken procession of natives, naked save for a wisp of cloth around the loins. They trod closely on each other's heels, carrying each his basket atop his head or on one shoulder, mounted a gang-plank, discharged their loads into the side of the ship, and descended again ...
— African Camp Fires • Stewart Edward White

... the wood strawberry; she had listened to the murmuring of streams through the long reeds and stems of the water-grass, where the hissing of the "amorous viper" may be heard; she had followed the wild leaps of the Will-with-a-wisp as it bounds over the surface of the meadows and marshes; she had pictured to herself the chimerical dwelling-places toward which it perfidiously attracts the benighted traveller; she had listened to the concerts given by the Cicada and their friends in the stubble of the fields; she ...
— Life of Chopin • Franz Liszt

... here, Honora, I'd accede to any reasonable request. But what do you expect me to do?" he demanded; "go down and say I'm afraid to ride him? or that my wife doesn't want me to? I'd never hear the end of it. And the first thing Adele would do would be to jump on him herself—a little wisp of a woman that looks as if she couldn't hold a Shetland pony! Can't you see that what ...
— The Crossing • Winston Churchill

... forgotten you, you'll find,' said the man, wiping his scythe blade with a wisp of grass; needlessly, for he had just whetted it; but it gave him an opportunity to look ...
— A Red Wallflower • Susan Warner

... disappeared into the wood, and after that, like a flitting will-o'-the-wisp, watched his flashlight moving about amongst the trees. Then presently the cheery blaze of a fire from where he was at work sprang up, and she heard the crackle of resinous pine knots—then a great crashing about, the snapping of branches ...
— The Miracle Man • Frank L. Packard

... with gold-hunters, greedy, undesirable interlopers doomed to disappointment in the long run. Ward had seen the gold fever sweep through a community and spoil life for the weak ones who took to chasing the will-o'-the-wisp of sudden wealth. Tramps of the pick-and-pan brigade—they should not come swarming into these hills on any wild-goose chase, if he could help it. And he could and should. This was not, properly speaking, a gold country. He knew it. The rock formations ...
— The Ranch at the Wolverine • B. M. Bower

... she took one from his case and gave it to him. Then, striking a match, held it for him, till the wisp of paper and tobacco was well alight; while he lay back, drawing in the fragrant smoke, with a sigh in which contentment and despair ...
— Captain Desmond, V.C. • Maud Diver

... A wisp of cloud, a long trail of shimmering gold, broke loose, swept with the touch of softest silk across my cheek, and half awakened me. I was lazily and sleepily regretting that such caresses only came in dreams, when I was brought ...
— The Yeoman Adventurer • George W. Gough

... clothe it with flesh and blood." Some years afterwards, I reminded him of this advice. "Did you follow it?" he inquired. "I tried," I said; "but I had not gone far on the road till some confounded Will-o-wisp came in and dazzled my sight, so that I deviated from the path, and never found it again."—"It is the same way with myself," said he, smiling; "I form my plan, and then I deviate."—"Ay, ay," I replied, "I understand—we ...
— The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction, No. 470 - Volume XVII, No. 470, Saturday, January 8, 1831 • Various

... the boys after him. They soon were so close to him, as he hopped and fluttered along the short grass, that the poor little fellow felt their hands would presently be upon him, and as a last chance of escape, he crept and hid himself under a wisp of hay. ...
— The Goat and Her Kid • Harriet Myrtle

... wisp Of day's distraction thine enchantment mar; Thy soft spell lisp And lure the sweetness down of each blue star. Then let that low moan be A while more easeful, trembling remote and strange, far oversea; So shall the easeless heart of love rest ...
— Poems New and Old • John Freeman

... precipitous walls, or in high mountain meadows, and, again, down by the gray sand-dunes with a wreath of billows at their feet, or afar on some volcanic tropic isle where waterfalls descended and became mist, reaching the sea in vapor veils that swayed and shivered to every vagrant wisp of wind. But always, in the foreground, lords of beauty and eternally reading and sharing, lay he and Ruth, and always in the background that was beyond the background of nature, dim and hazy, were work and success and money earned ...
— Martin Eden • Jack London

... rough, hard, salt-savored life Blossom was the one thing sweet and beautiful. Blossom was the little frail wisp of a child that Judith loved. This other child, here on the sand, watching her with friendly wonder, reminded her a little of Blossom. Anyway, they were both sweet ...
— Judith Lynn - A Story of the Sea • Annie Hamilton Donnell

... Irgens starts for home. He passes H. Henriksen's establishment and decides to drop in a moment. The son of the house, a young man in a business suit of cheviot, is still busy at his desk. His eyes are large and blue, although his complexion is rather dark otherwise; a stray wisp of hair sags untidily over his forehead. The tall, somewhat gaunt and taciturn fellow looks about thirty years old. His comrades value him highly because he helps them a good deal with money and articles of commerce ...
— Shallow Soil • Knut Hamsun

... was fastened on a wisp of smoke rising lazily from a hollow of the crumpled hills. That floating film told of a camp-fire of buffalo chips. There was a little knitted frown of worry on her forehead, for imagination could fill in details of what the coulee held: the white canvas tops ...
— Man Size • William MacLeod Raine

... ashes, Kwasind Rose, but made no angry answer; From the lodge went forth in silence, Took the nets, that hung together, Dripping, freezing at the doorway; Like a wisp of straw he wrung them, Like a wisp of straw he broke them, Could not wring them without breaking, Such the strength was in ...
— The Song Of Hiawatha • Henry W. Longfellow

... settle beside them, with perhaps half a dozen spans of the hand between. He smoked till the cigarette scorched his fingers, then he dropped it, extinguishing the coal with the toe of his pump. He observed the women frankly. Not a single wisp of hair escaped the veils, not a line of any feature could be traced, and yet the tint of flesh shone dimly behind the silken bands of crape; and ...
— The Lure of the Mask • Harold MacGrath

... her out two dozen upon the moss of the rock-ledge, unwinding the wisp of hay from each as it came safe out of my pocket. Lorna looked with growing wonder, as I added one to one; and when I had placed them side by side, and bidden her now to tell them, to my amazement what did she do but burst into a flood ...
— Lorna Doone - A Romance of Exmoor • R. D. Blackmore

... until the sweating is completely over, or so long as prudence will permit; and when cold weather fairly sets in, add more earth to keep from freezing, leaving only a wisp of straw protruding through to carry off any foul air that ...
— The $100 Prize Essay on the Cultivation of the Potato; and How to Cook the Potato • D. H. Compton and Pierre Blot

... Ah knows just the woman for you-all, ef you-all ain't lookin' for a young gal with a figger like a wisp of hay." ...
— Polly of Pebbly Pit • Lillian Elizabeth Roy

... to slip in, Nor any thing in the earth, or down in the oldest graves of the earth, Nor any thing in the myriads of spheres, nor the myriads of myriads that inhabit them, Nor the present, nor the least wisp that is known. ...
— Leaves of Grass • Walt Whitman

... and lends them their mystery. A belt of thick brushwood and low trees lay before me, clinging to the slope, and as I pushed with great difficulty and many turns to right and left through its tangle a wisp of cloud enveloped me, and from that time on I was now in, now out, of a deceptive drifting fog, in which it was most difficult ...
— The Path to Rome • Hilaire Belloc

... talked softly to her. She slipped a hand under the hen, and lifted her to see the eggs. Dannie staring at Mary noted closer the fresh, cleared skin, the glossy hair, the delicately colored cheeks, and the plumpness of the bare arms. One little wisp of curl lay against the curve of her neck, just where it showed rose-pink, and looked honey sweet. And in one great surge, the repressed stream of passion in the strong man broke, and Dannie swayed against his ...
— At the Foot of the Rainbow • Gene Stratton-Porter

... country, pass a spirit-haunted spot. The leader of the party turns round, and in a low voice tells the others that they are approaching the spot, whereupon they all become silent, though up to that point they have been chattering. The leader then takes a wisp of grass and ties it in a knot, and all the others do the same. They then walk on in silence for a period, which may be anything from five to fifteen minutes, after which, as they pass the spot, the leader turns round and throws his bunch of grass on the ground, and ...
— The Mafulu - Mountain People of British New Guinea • Robert W. Williamson

... sonny," he added, in a soothing tone; "just tell the ladies when you get home that it was all an accident. Here, rub down your clothes wi' this wisp o' grass, an' I'll see if my missis can't coax them Cochins to lay some more eggs ...
— Two Little Travellers - A Story for Girls • Frances Browne Arthur

... I waste my abilities pursuing this will-o'-the-wisp "Enough," which is ever a little more than one has, and which none of the panting millions ever yet overtook in his mad chase? Is there no desirable thing left in this world but gold, ...
— Architects of Fate - or, Steps to Success and Power • Orison Swett Marden

... in her face, a great star shone in her eyes. She thought at first she was out of doors. Then she heard a kind but commanding voice repeating: "Open your mouth," and stared up wildly into her great-great-great-grandmother's face, then around the strange little garret, lighted with a wisp of rag in a pewter dish of tallow, and the stars shining through the crack in the logs. Not a bit of furniture was there in the room, besides the bed and an oak chest. Some queer-looking garments hung ...
— The Green Door • Mary E. Wilkins Freeman

... may say, it was embodied in the Diana who was queen and goddess of the realm. Yes—I shall always be glad I was with Neave when he had his first look at the Diana. I see him now, blinking at her through his white lashes, and stroking his seedy wisp of a moustache to hide a twitch of the muscles. It was all very quiet, but it was the coup de foudre. I could see that by the way his hands trembled when he turned away and began to examine the other things. You remember Neave's hands—thin, sallow, dry, with long inquisitive fingers thrown out ...
— Tales Of Men And Ghosts • Edith Wharton

... the will o' the wisp, Carlotta, for two years now, against his better judgment and to the undoing of his peace of mind and heart. And play days were over for Phil Lambert. The work-a-day world awaited him, a world where there would be neither space nor time for chasing phantoms, ...
— Wild Wings - A Romance of Youth • Margaret Rebecca Piper

... instant, with one of his baffling changes of mood, he began to laugh. "Really, though, Patricia, you are very pretty. You are April embodied in sweet flesh; your soul is just a wisp of April cloud, and your life an April day, half sun that only seems to warm, and half tempest that only plays at ferocity; but you are very pretty. That is why I am thinking, light-headedly, it would be a fine and past doubt an agreeable exploit to give up everything for such a woman, and am complacently ...
— The Rivet in Grandfather's Neck - A Comedy of Limitations • James Branch Cabell

... all but the flesh, through every corridor of the prison and every street outside, to the hotel where you read the English papers on the veranda, or to the little restaurant where the Chianti was corked with oil which the waiter removed with a wisp of tow. ...
— Stingaree • E. W. (Ernest William) Hornung

... of the old man's neck, into a confusion of grey hair and rusty stock and buckle which altogether nearly poked his hat off. A greasy hat it was, and a napless; impending over his eyes, cracked and crumpled at the brim, and with a wisp of pocket-handkerchief dangling out below it. His trousers were so long and loose, and his shoes so clumsy and large, that he shuffled like an elephant; though how much of this was gait, and how much trailing cloth and leather, no one could have told. Under one arm he carried a limp and worn-out ...
— Little Dorrit • Charles Dickens

... conveniently erroneous phrase, the variations arose spontaneously. The fruitless search after final causes leads their pursuers a long way; but even those hardy teleologists, who are ready to break through all the laws of physics in chase of their favourite will-o'-the-wisp, may be puzzled to discover what purpose could be attained by the stunted legs of Seth Wright's ram or the hexadactyle members of ...
— Lectures and Essays • T.H. Huxley

... all the time needed to accumulate a heap of the big, fan-like leaves. These Charley made into three torch-like bundles, taking care to place a dead dry leaf between each two green ones. Binding each bundle together with a wisp of green leaf, he struck a match and lit up the three, passing one to the captain and Walter, and ...
— The Boy Chums in the Forest - or Hunting for Plume Birds in the Florida Everglades • Wilmer M. Ely

... waters for interminable ages. He watched a full moon rise blood-red and awful and turn gradually to a whiteness of still more appalling purity. For a long, long time he watched it, trying to recall something which eluded him, chasing a will-o'-the-wisp memory round and round the ...
— The Bars of Iron • Ethel May Dell

... Island. The credulous, wonder-loving scientist, however, still abides with us and, while his serious-minded brothers are wringing from Nature her jealously guarded secrets, the knowledge of which benefits all mankind, he gravely follows that perennial Will-of-the-wisp, spiritism, and lays the flattering unction to his soul that he is investigating "psychic phenomena," when in reality he is merely gazing with unseeing eyes on the ...
— The Miracle Mongers, an Expos • Harry Houdini

... that cozy room. She was reclining, eyes closed and hands folded, on a pillowed settee, where the glow of a shaded lamp fell softly upon her, and David thought her the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. A very wisp of a woman she was; he could have held her in his arms and scarcely felt the weight. But he would have taken her very tenderly, so fragile she seemed. Under a filmy lace cap her hair, still fine and plentiful, shone silvery. The face, though the face of age and white and thin almost to transparency, ...
— The House of Toys • Henry Russell Miller

... A nide of pheasants, A wisp of snipe, A flight of doves or swallows, A muster of peacocks, A siege of herons, A building of rooks, A brood of grouse, A plump of wild fowl, A stand of plovers, A watch of nightingales, A clattering of choughs, A flock of geese, A herd or bunch of cattle, A bevy of ...
— Burroughs' Encyclopaedia of Astounding Facts and Useful Information, 1889 • Barkham Burroughs

... Lesbury toward the sea, and before long came in sight of it ... a glorious stretch of blue, smooth that day as an island lake and shining like polished steel in the light of the sun. There was not a sail in sight, north or south or due east, nor a wisp of trailing smoke from any passing steamer: I got an impression of silent, unbroken immensity which seemed a fitting prelude to the solitudes into which my ...
— Ravensdene Court • J. S. (Joseph Smith) Fletcher

... on the same rock, and she was dressed in the same adorable riding outfit with a blue wisp of veil wound somehow on her gray felt hat, and the same blue roan was dozing, with dragging bridle-reins, a few rods down the other side of the peak. She was sketching so industriously that she never heard me coming until I stood ...
— The Range Dwellers • B. M. Bower

... there is a real being—the soul, in fact, as distinct from the body, in which all but materialists believe—that this has no permanent existence, but melts away by degrees till it becomes an irresponsible, purposeless nothing—a will-o'-the-wisp in fact? I think I heard of some theory of the kind lately in a French book, but it shocked and repelled me so that I tried to forget it. Just as well, better, believe that we are nothing but our bodies, and that all is over ...
— Four Ghost Stories • Mrs. Molesworth

... speech" reflects not so much our intuitive analysis of reality as our ability to compose that reality into a variety of formal patterns. A part of speech outside of the limitations of syntactic form is but a will o' the wisp. For this reason no logical scheme of the parts of speech—their number, nature, and necessary confines—is of the slightest interest to the linguist. Each language has its own scheme. Everything depends on the formal demarcations which ...
— Language - An Introduction to the Study of Speech • Edward Sapir

... his eye upon him,—a cool, gray eye, overhung by an eyebrow that seemed under perfect muscular control; for the gray wisp of hair grew pointed like a paint-brush, and had ...
— Atlantic Monthly, Volume 3, Issue 15, January, 1859 • Various

... his old age is sunny and chirping; and a merry heart still nestles in his tottering frame, like a swallow that builds in a tumble-down chimney. He is a professed Squire of Dames. The rustle of a silk gown is music to his ears, and his imagination is continuallylantern-led by some will-with-a-wisp in the shape of a lady's stomacher. In his devotion to the fair sex,—the muslin, as he calls it,—he is the gentle flower of chivalry. It is amusing to see how quick he strikes into the scent of a lady's handkerchief. When once fairly ...
— Hyperion • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

... health is like the pursuit of happiness in that you do not always know when you have either. It may furthermore be likened to chasing a will-o'-the-wisp that ever keeps a few safe paces ahead of you. The thought that I had to keep busy at something calculated to promote my health was a habit that I could not easily relinquish. So now I began to read up and practice physical ...
— Confessions of a Neurasthenic • William Taylor Marrs

... even as it is a gaggle of geese or a badling of ducks, a fall of woodcock or a wisp of snipe. But a covey of pheasants! What sort of talk is that? I made him sit even where you are sitting, Nigel, and I saw the bottom of two pots of Rhenish ere I let him up. Even then I fear that he had no great profit ...
— Sir Nigel • Arthur Conan Doyle

... as he strode on through the park of Luckenough, "to fancy that any one with eyes, heart and brain, could possibly fall in love with the 'Will-o'-the-wisp' Jacquelina, or worse, that giglet, Angelica; when he sees Marian! Marian, whose least sunny tress is dearer to me than are all the living creatures in the world besides. Marian, for whose possession I am now about to risk everything, even her own esteem. ...
— The Missing Bride • Mrs. E. D. E. N. Southworth

... them prostrate. Lilu and lilitu are the spirits that flit by in the night. Of a specific character likewise are the conceptions connected with a demon known as ardat lili, 'maid of the night,' a strange female 'will-o'-the-wisp,' who approaches men, arouses their passions, but does not permit a satisfaction of them. Great importance being attached by the Babylonians to dreams, the belief in a 'maid of the night' was probably due to the unchecked ...
— The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria • Morris Jastrow

... leading, they went, single file through utter blackness. Now and then the white disc of Lees' lantern, now in Po Lun's hand, gleamed like a guiding will-o-wisp upon the ...
— Port O' Gold • Louis John Stellman

... Only a freakish wisp of hair?— Nay, but its wildest, its most frolic whorl Stands for a slim, enamoured, sweet-fleshed girl! And so, a tangle of dream and charm and fun, Its every crook a promise and a snare, Its every dowle, or genially gadding Or crisply curled, ...
— Hawthorn and Lavender - with Other Verses • William Ernest Henley

... Gertie, indignantly, twisting the telegram she held in her hand into a wisp, "it's from Uncle ...
— Daisy Brooks - A Perilous Love • Laura Jean Libbey

... do?" said Billy, and he went back to the earth, where he and the piece of the devil's nose melted into a ball of fire, and he roves the earth till this day as a will-o'-the-wisp. ...
— Welsh Fairy-Tales And Other Stories • Edited by P. H. Emerson

... completely forget it. For Love, and Death, and Pain are only symbols to him who is enslaved by the pen. Moreover, he suffers always the pangs of an unsatisfied hunger, the exquisite torture of an unappeased and unappeasable thirst, for something which, like a will-o'-the-wisp, hovers ever above and beyond him, past the power of ...
— At the Sign of the Jack O'Lantern • Myrtle Reed

... them two out. She ain't young, and she ain't exactly old, and she ain't pretty,—well, she's got the best of the bargain, a little wisp like her." For, womanlike, she admired Falkner in his sweater and flannels, strong and male, with a dark coat of ...
— Together • Robert Herrick (1868-1938)

... journey of forty miles Avaux counted only three miserable cabins. Every thing else was rock, bog, and moor. When at length the travellers reached Omagh, they found it in ruins. The Protestants, who were the majority of the inhabitants, had abandoned it, leaving not a wisp of straw nor a cask of liquor. The windows had been broken: the chimneys had been beaten in: the very locks and bolts of the doors had been carried ...
— The History of England from the Accession of James II. - Volume 3 (of 5) • Thomas Babington Macaulay

... A wisp of paper is twisted carefully into the strands of the dead man's hair. It says, "My Lord: Your wife's paramour has paid with his life ...
— Sword Blades and Poppy Seed • Amy Lowell

... a raspy old fellow; but he's such a little, old, withered wisp of a chap, you'll ...
— Dab Kinzer - A Story of a Growing Boy • William O. Stoddard

... tae lift that box for ony sake, man. Sall, ye 're no' feared," as Carmichael, thirsting for action, swung it up unaided; and then, catching sight of the merest wisp of white, "A' didna see ye were a minister, an' the word ...
— Kate Carnegie and Those Ministers • Ian Maclaren

... one feels like a wisp of straw floating down a wide smooth river; reading Meredith one is flicked and flapped and beaten, as if beneath a hand ...
— One Hundred Best Books • John Cowper Powys

... latest arrivals. She looked her prettiest in a filmy gown of pale-blue chiffon, with touches of silver embroidery. An ornament in her hair was of silver filigree, with a wisp of pale- blue feather, and her cheeks were ...
— Patty's Suitors • Carolyn Wells

... sympathetic magic used still by savages is recorded in the Rennes Dindsenchas. In this story one man says spells over his spear and hurls it into his opponent's shadow, so that he falls dead.[1121] Equally primitive is the Druidic "sending" a wisp of straw over which the Druid sang spells and flung it into his victim's face, so that he became mad. A similar method is used by the Eskimo angekok. All madness was generally ...
— The Religion of the Ancient Celts • J. A. MacCulloch

... Did he, on the other hand, escape from the French prison where Grosley thought he saw him, during the French Revolution? Was he known to Lord Lytton about 1860? Was he then Major Fraser? Is he the mysterious Muscovite adviser of the Dalai Lama? Who knows? He is a will-o'-the-wisp of the memoir-writers of the eighteenth century. Whenever you think you have a chance of finding him in good authentic State papers, he gives you the slip; and if his existence were not vouched for by Horace Walpole, I should ...
— Historical Mysteries • Andrew Lang

... answered Jon. Nothing but the general hard times and hay shortage. Every farmer at the end of his tether, or almost there, no one with as much as a wisp of hay to spare, and only a few likely to make out till Crouchmas ...
— Seven Icelandic Short Stories • Various

... He would try Kensky again, he thought; but again his mission was fruitless. He might have given up his search for this will-o'-the-wisp but for the fact that his new employers seemed to attach considerable importance to his making acquaintance with this notability of Kieff. He could hardly be out ...
— The Book of All-Power • Edgar Wallace

... of the past because I was so sure of the present. A wisp of brown mist settling among the trees spread cloud behind her. What I wanted was this woman, to hide in the woods for my own. I could feed and clothe her, deck her with necklaces of garnets from the rocks, and wreaths of the delicate sand-wort flower. She said she would rather make ...
— Lazarre • Mary Hartwell Catherwood

... about the fetlocks, so as to remove all gravel and dust which will sometimes lie in the bending of the joints." In addition to the practice of this old writer, modern grooms add wisping, which usually follows brushing. The best wisp is made from a hayband, untwisted, and again doubled up after being moistened with water: this is applied to every part of the body, as the brushing had been, by changing the hands, taking care in all these operations to carry the hand in the direction of ...
— The Book of Household Management • Mrs. Isabella Beeton

... craned out of the window, watching his progress, and wondering with what sudden madness he was bitten. Indeed, I could not credit my senses, could not believe that I heard and saw aright. Yet there out in the darkness on the moor moved the will-o'-the-wisp, and ten yards along the gutter crept my friend, like a great gaunt cat. Unknown to me he must have prospected the route by daylight, for now I saw his design. The ledge terminated only where it met the ancient wall of the ...
— The Return of Dr. Fu-Manchu • Sax Rohmer

... emperors was now ended. Its results were momentous. Germany, so long neglected by its rightful rulers, who pursued the will-o'-the-wisp in Italy, broke up into a mass of duchies, counties, archbishoprics, and free cities. The map of the country at this time shows how numerous were these small feudal states. They did not combine into a strong government till the nineteenth ...
— EARLY EUROPEAN HISTORY • HUTTON WEBSTER

... phosphorus set on fire yields copious smoke, but it would be apt to make people cough, and, besides, phosphorus is a dangerous thing to handle incautiously, and I do not want to suggest anything which might be productive of disaster if the experiment was repeated at home. A little wisp of hay, slightly damped and lighted, will safely yield a sufficient supply, and you need not have an elaborate box like this; any kind of old packing-case, or even a bandbox with a duster stretched across its open top and a round hole cut in the bottom, will answer capitally. ...
— Young Folks' Library, Volume XI (of 20) - Wonders of Earth, Sea and Sky • Various

... conquer if we lift up the voice of thanks for victory in advance, and go into the battle expecting to triumph, because we trust in God. The world's expectation of success is too often a dream, a will-o'-the-wisp that tempts to bogs where the beguiled victim is choked, though even in the world it is often true; 'screw your courage to the sticking point, and we'll not fail.' But faith, that is the expectation of success based on God's help ...
— Expositions Of Holy Scripture - Volume I: St. Luke, Chaps. I to XII • Alexander Maclaren

... pacific agreement with England is a will-o'-the-wisp which no serious German statesman would trouble to follow. We must always keep the possibility of war with England before our eyes, and arrange our political and military plans accordingly.—GENERAL V. BERNHARDI, G.N.W., ...
— Gems (?) of German Thought • Various

... readers will regard that varry gooid advice, when they see th' grass cut—"Mak hay woll th 'sun shines." There's nowt aw like better nor to spend a day or two in a hay field. Tawk abaat "Ho de Colong!" It doesn't smell hauf as weel to me as a wisp o' new made hay. An' them 'at niver knew th' luxury a' gooin' to bed wi' tired booans, should work i'th' hay-field for a wick. It'll do onnybody gooid; an' if some o' them idle laewts 'at stand bi a duzzen together at th' loin ...
— Yorkshire Ditties, First Series - To Which Is Added The Cream Of Wit And Humour From His Popular Writings • John Hartley

... the grate. A faint wisp of brown smoke was arising from a long white envelope which lay there. Had the fire been actually burning, it must long ago have been destroyed. More than ever mystified, for the significance of the envelope was not evident to him, he ran to the grate ...
— The Golden Scorpion • Sax Rohmer

... he replied, "I knew not then that he was plighted to the maiden Solita, or never would I have borne this message. For this I surely know, that all my days are waste and barren because I suffered my mistress to send me from her after a will-of-the-wisp honour, even as Solita ...
— Ensign Knightley and Other Stories • A. E. W. Mason

... cicale chirps to a lass making hay, "Why creak'st thou, Tithonus?" quoth she. "I don't play; It doubles my toil, your importunate lay; I've earned a sweet pillow, lo! Hesper is nigh; I clasp a good wisp, and in fragrance I lie; But thou art unwearied, ...
— Ionica • William Cory (AKA William Johnson)

... boy!" and, still smiling, made excuses for him: he had come with such pleasurable anticipations, and everything had gone wrong. Heinz had behaved disagracefully, as only he could. While as for Louise, one was no more able to rely on her than on a wisp straw; and she, Madeleine, was little better than a fool ...
— Maurice Guest • Henry Handel Richardson

... luminous spots in her mouth. I had heard somewhere that there is a phosphorescence appearing during decay of organic substances which once gave rise to the ancient superstition of "corpse lights" and the will-o'-the-wisp. It was really due, I knew, to living bacteria. But there surely had been no time for such micro-organisms to develop, even in the almost tropic heat of the Novella. Could she have been poisoned by these phosphorescent bacilli? What was it—a strange new mouth- malady that ...
— The Dream Doctor • Arthur B. Reeve

... he has stolen a march upon the watchful guardians of the college; he revels in the sentiment of freedom; and believes himself in pursuit of that will o' the wisp called happiness. ...
— The Youth of Jefferson - A Chronicle of College Scrapes at Williamsburg, in Virginia, A.D. 1764 • Anonymous

... he had plucked from his face. And he knew by its soft thin feeling and its delicate scent of violets, Bee's favorite perfume, that it was her handkerchief, and she had spread it as a veil over his exposed and feverish, face. That little wisp of cambric was redolent of Bee! of her presence, ...
— Ishmael - In the Depths • Mrs. E. D. E. N. Southworth

... those sparks denounce their rage, In boot of wisp and Leinster frise engage; What would you do in ...
— The Works Of John Dryden, Vol. 7 (of 18) - The Duke of Guise; Albion and Albanius; Don Sebastian • John Dryden

... feet. Linnet and Matthew Henry, too, had picked themselves up, though more slowly.... A wisp of smoke drifted by the rock to their right. When they turned their eyes upon the Mermaid's Rock ...
— Major Vigoureux • A. T. Quiller-Couch

... use of my umbrella?" he asked promptly; "and perhaps you will let me carry your parcels for you," he suggested in the humblest manner possible, eyeing covetously her flower-pot, and the paper wisp from "Burnet's." ...
— A Houseful of Girls • Sarah Tytler



Words linked to "Wisp" :   wispy, snipe, flock, packet, package, parcel



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