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A wraith is popularly described as a violent ghost who attacks living people. It is a Scottish word, first attested in English in 1513. Its modern connotations have been strongly affected by the ringwraiths in J. R. R. Tolkien's novel The Lord of the Rings.

Tolkien's wraiths were a form of undead creature. Unlike other undead, however, wraiths need not have passed through death to become undead. Instead, Tolkien's Ringwraiths were corrupted by evil such that they became purely soulless and under the control of Sauron, a powerful necromancer.

In the fictional Star Wars Expanded Universe, wraiths (actually the Defel) are barely visible beings who appear to most other species as shadows, re-enforcing the misconception that they are chameleon-like beings or "living shadows". Typically, they are employed as mercenaries or guards. they are from a large, high-gravity, seldom-visited world orbiting the ultraviolet supergiant Ka'Dedus. Af'El has no ozone layer and ultraviolet light passes freely to the surface, while other light wavelengths are blocked by the heavy gases in the planet's atmosphere. Thus, all lifeforms on Af'El can only see in ultraviolet light ranges, and are blind to other wavelengths of light. Af'El is the homeworld of the Defel, or "wraiths," whose bodies absorb visible light, giving them the appearance of shadows. The Defel live in underground cities to escape Af'El's violent storms. A main export of the planet is the metal meleenium (used in durasteel), which is only known to exist on Af'El.

In the real-time strategy game StarCraft, the Wraith is a Terran starfighter. The fighter is produced at the Starport and can be upgraded at the Control Tower. One can research the cloaking ability that allows it to turn invisible for a period of time. The Wraith is good for hit-and-run attacks on enemy workers, escorting larger ships, and engaging enemy air units. It is fairly effective in groups against other air units but does little damage against ground units and buildings.

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