The first attestation dates to 1513, in the Middle Scots translation alone of Aeneid: "Nor áµ¹it na vayn wrathys nor gaiftis quent Thi char conftrenyt bakwart forto went," "Syklyke as that, thai fay, in diuers placis The wraithis walkis of goiftis that ar ded," "Thydder went this wrath or fchaddo of Ene, That femyt, all abafyt, faft to fle,".
The word has no certain etymology. J. R. R. Tolkien favored a link with writhe. Also compared are Scottish Gaelic warth and Old Norse vÃ¶rÃ°r (“watcher, guardian"), whence Icelandic vÃ¶rÃ°ur (“guard"). See wray/wreien and bewray; therefore "fama..figuras" becomes "wraithis".