An appearance of St. Elmo’s fire on a mast, rigging, or other structure.
- Everybody knows nowadays that a corposant is nothing whatever but an electrical phenomenon, and therefore merely an indication that the atmosphere is surcharged with electricity.
- The most stunning demonstration of its unearthly spell occurs late in Pequod's ill-fated voyage, when the ship is illuminated by an eerie outburst of corposants in the midst of a violent squall.
- Seeing St. Elmo's Fire, jolly Stubb changed to pleading Stubb: ‘The corposants have mercy on us all!’
Mid 16th century: from Old Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian corpo santo 'holy body'.
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