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THE NAME “jack-o’-lantern” is of British origin and dates from the 17th century, when it literally meant “man with a lantern” (i.e., a night watchman). It was also a nickname for the natural phenomenon known as ignis fatuus (fool’s fire) or “will o’ the wisp,” the mysterious, flickering lights sometimes seen at night over wetlands and associated in folklore with fairies and ghosts playing pranks on travelers.