What Does Ignis Fatuus Mean?


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Ignus fatuus written as ignes fatui is the name given to a phosphorescent type of light that is sometimes observed hovering over swampy ground. The word can also be used to mean an illusion or something that deludes or misleads.

Ignis fatuus is taken from the Medieval Latin words "ignis" meaning fire and "fatuus" meaning foolish (fool's fire).

The phenomenon of Ignis Fatuus is known by a number of names including friar's lantern, will-o'-the-wisp and jack-o'-lantern. The reasons attributed for Ignis fatuus are that swampy grounds, bogs, marshes etc release marsh gas or methane as a result of bacteriological action etc. It is believed that the gases so accumulated may at times spontaneously combust.

The phenomenon of Ignus fatuus has also entered into folklore, probably because earlier man could not completely understand why it occurred.

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