Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Wight is an obsolete word for a human or other intelligent being (cognate to modern German "Wicht", meaning "small person, dwarf", and also "unpleasant guy"). It is used now only to give an impression of archaism and mystery, for example in the works of J. R. R. Tolkien. Probably inspired by Scandinavian folklore (see below), Tolkien also used the word to denote human-like creatures, such as elves or ghosts ("wraiths") - most notably the undead Barrow-Wights. It is akin to other words of Old English origin such as were and world. Some subsequent writers seem to have been unaware that the word did not actually mean ghost or wraith, and so many works of fantasy fiction and role-playing games (such as Dungeons & Dragons) use the term as the name of spectral creatures very similar to Tolkien's Barrow-wights.
Also from the same Germanic root:
In Scandinavian folklore the Vetter, or Vättar ("wights") are elves, and correspond roughly to gnomes when they are benevolent, and to goblins when they are not. A tomte is a benevolent vätte who can live among people, but only shows himself when they are asleep.
The Illvätte is a goblin.
In Norse mythology, the Landvættir ("land-wights") were the resident spirits of specific farms and wild places. The term includes beings which are equivalent to fairies, to the Greek nymphs, or to other chthonic beings. In Icelandic sagas, Vikings (when not at war) took off the carved dragons from the bows of their Longships before making land, so as not to frighten the landvættir and incur bad luck from them.
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