Wight is a Middle English word for a creature or a living being, especially a human being. In modern English today, it is also used in fiction for human-like creatures.
Wight comes from Old English word wiht akin to Old High German wiht, which derives from the same root as forms of to be, such as was and were. The word is a cognate with Dutch wicht, German Wicht, Old Norse vættir and Swedish vätte. Modern German Wicht means "small person, dwarf", and also "unpleasant person"; in Low German it means "girl". It is not related to the English word witch.
Wight has been used comparatively recently to give an impression of archaism and mystery in literature, for example in the fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien, where wights are corpses with a part of their decayed soul. Probably inspired by Scandinavian folklore (of vættir), Tolkien also used the word to denote human-like creatures, such as elves or ghosts ("wraiths") - most notably the undead Barrow-Wights.
Some subsequent writers seem to have been unaware that the word did not actually mean ghost or wraith, and so many works of fantasy fiction, role-playing games and computer and video games use the term as the name of spectral creatures very similar to Tolkien's Barrow-wights, such as Dungeons & Dragons' wights.
Art / Fiction
Examples of the word used in classic English literature and poetry: