Where does the term “fata morgana” come from and What does fata morgana mean?

Nothing to do with “fate”; the expression is Italian for “the fairy Morgana,” and you’ll see it in French as Morgan le Fay.

By English legend she was the fairy who reported to King Arthur, her brother, the love affair between his wife, Guinevere and the knight Lancelot.

But the fairy appears in many medieval romances, especially Italian.

And, because she was anciently supposed to have been the cause, her name, fata morgana, has long been applied to the kind of mirage most frequently seen in the Strait of Messina, in which the spectator may see images of men, houses, ships, sometimes in the water, sometimes in the air, or doubled, with one image inverted above the other.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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