1. A small bunch or bundle, as of straw, hair, or grass.
a. One that is thin, frail, or slight: "a little wisp of a kid, ten years old" (William Lychack).
b. A thin or faint streak or fragment, as of smoke or clouds.
3. A fleeting trace or indication; a hint: a wisp of a smile.
4. A flock of birds, especially snipe.
5. See ignis fatuus.
v. wisped, wisp·ing, wisps
To twist into wisps or a wisp.
To drift in wisps: smoke wisping from chimneys.
wispi·ness (wĭspē-nĭs) n.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.