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Fata Morgana

[Italian fah-tah mawr-gah-nah]
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noun
  1. Meteorology. a mirage consisting of multiple images, as of cliffs and buildings, that are distorted and magnified to resemble elaborate castles, often seen near the Straits of Messina.
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Origin of Fata Morgana

1810–20; < Italian, translation of Morgan le Fay, associated in literature with magical castles
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for fata morgana

Fata Morgana

noun
  1. a mirage, esp one in the Strait of Messina attributed to the sorcery of Morgan le Fay
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Word Origin

C19: from Italian: Morgan le Fay
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for fata morgana

Fata Morgana

n.

1818, literally "Fairy Morgana," mirage especially common in the Strait of Messina, Italy, from Morgana, the "Morgan le Fay" of Anglo-French poetry, sister of King Arthur, located in Calabria by Norman settlers. Morgan is Welsh, "sea-dweller." There is perhaps, too, here an influence of Arabic marjan, literally "pearl," also a fem. proper name, popularly the name of a sorceress.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper