Wight is a Middle English word, from Old English wiht, and used to describe a creature or living sentient being. It is akin to Old High German wiht, meaning a creature or thing.
In its original usage the word wight described a living human being. More recently, the word has been used within the fantasy genre of literature to describe undead or wraith-like creatures: corpses with a part of their decayed soul still in residence, often draining life from their victims. Notable examples of this include the undead Barrow-wights from the works of J. R. R. Tolkien and the wights of Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game.
The English word is cognate with other Germanic words such as Dutch wicht, German Wicht, Old Norse vættir, Swedish vätte, Danish vætte. Modern High German Wicht means 'small person, dwarf,' and also 'unpleasant person,' while in Low German the word means 'girl.' The Wicht, Wichtel or Wichtelchen of Germanic folklore is most commonly translated into English as an imp, a small, shy character who often does helpful domestic chores when nobody is looking (as in the Tale of the Cobbler's Shoes). These terms are not related to the English word witch. In Scandinavian folklore, too, wights are elusive creatures not unlike elves, capable of mischief as well as of help. In German and Dutch language the word Bösewicht or Booswicht points out an evildoer, "Bösewichte haben keine Lieder" means they (do not make merry) are unpleasant folk.
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels by George R. R. Martin, wights are a category of undead creatures, usually humans or animals who have been killed and turned by the White Walkers (aka the Others) or by other wights. They have pallid skin, black hands, and fierce ice-blue eyes, and are described as being virtually impervious to all forms of attack, even forcibly amputated limbs are described as having sentience. Their few weaknesses include immolation in fire, a magical Valerian-steel weapon, and obsidian weapons, referred to as "dragon glass."
Read more about Wight: In Literature and Culture
Famous quotes containing the word wight:
“Then think I thus: sith such repair,
So long time war of valiant men,
Was all to win a lady fair,
Shall I not learn to suffer then,
And think my life well spent to be,
Serving a worthier wight than she?”
—Henry Howard, Earl Of Surrey (1517?1547)
“She that was ever fair, and never proud,
Had tongue at will, and yet was never loud
She that could think, and neer disclose her mind,
See suitors following, and not look behind.
She was a wight, if ever such wight were
To suckle fools and chronicle small beer.”
—William Shakespeare (15641616)