Etymology
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mirage (n.)

"optical illusion of objects reflected in a sheet of water in hot, sandy deserts," 1800, in translations of French works, from French mirage (1753), from se mirer "to be reflected," from Latin mirare (see mirror (n.)). Or the French word is from Latin mirus "wonderful" (see miracle). The similarity to Arabic mi'raj has been noted, but the usual sense of that word is "ladder, stairs; climb, ascent," and the resemblance appears to be coincidental. The standard Arabic for "a desert mirage" is sarāb. The figurative sense of "deceptiveness of appearance, a delusive seeming" is by 1812. The phenomenon is produced by excessive bending of light rays through layers of air of different densities, producing distorted, displaced, or inverted images.

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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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