spec·ta·cle | \ˈspek-ti-kəl also -ˌti-kəl \

Definition of spectacle 

1a : something exhibited to view as unusual, notable, or entertaining especially : an eye-catching or dramatic public display

b : an object of curiosity or contempt made a spectacle of herself

2 spectacles plural : glasses

3 : something (such as natural markings on an animal) suggesting a pair of glasses

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Synonyms for spectacle


eyeglasses, glass, specs

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Examples of spectacle in a Sentence

He peered through his spectacles. the multimedia spectacles that have become established parts of the opening and closing ceremonies for the Olympic Games

Recent Examples on the Web

The spectacle shut down the freeway’s packed southbound lanes for roughly two hours and paralyzed much of traffic downtown as police officers and firefighters attempted to coax the man from his perilous perch. Benjamin Oreskes, latimes.com, "‘You ain’t poppin’ unless you got haters’: Aspiring rapper turns L.A. commute into nightmare," 28 June 2018 The whole spectacle made our plans look pretty damn boring by comparison. refinery29.com, "15 Patriotic Beauty Looks You'll Still Want To Wear After The 4th Of July," 28 June 2018 So even as the narrative becomes more perplexing — as before, realistic masks conceal true identities, characters' actual agendas remain hidden — the fast-moving spectacle unfolds in extraordinary fashion. Todd Mccarthy, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Mission: Impossible — Fallout': Film Review," 12 July 2018 What had started as a niche exhibition has adapted to the showmanship zest of the host city, as the spectacle beyond the court has become just as entertaining as the games for casual and serious fans alike. Arizona Republic, azcentral, "Summer League live day two: A mad dash kicks off the day," 7 July 2018 The only hint of priestliness lay in the spectacles gleaming on his broad, dark mestizo face, and the high-collared white jacket straining its buttons across his boxer’s chest. The Economist, "Obituary: Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo, the first cardinal from Central America," 23 June 2018 Most Americans will likely be asleep during the bulk of the summit, but given what a huge event this is, at least some people will probably stay up to watch the spectacle. Jennifer Williams, Vox, "Trump-Kim summit in Singapore: what time and how to watch," 11 June 2018 The musical is based on a Victorian legend that became a garish stage spectacle. Christopher Arnott, courant.com, "Terrence Mann Kills It As 'Sweeney Todd' At CT Rep," 26 June 2018 Following the parade, Suri's customers took to Twitter to share the adorable spectacle. Ruby Buddemeyer, Marie Claire, "Suri Cruise Sold Lemonade to Yesterday's NYC Pride Parade Attendees," 25 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'spectacle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of spectacle

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for spectacle

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin spectaculum, from spectare to watch, frequentative of specere to look, look at — more at spy

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Phrases Related to spectacle

make a spectacle of oneself

Statistics for spectacle

Last Updated

15 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for spectacle

The first known use of spectacle was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for spectacle



English Language Learners Definition of spectacle

: a very impressive show

: something that attracts attention because it is very unusual or very shocking

spectacles : a pair of lenses set into a frame and worn over the eyes


spec·ta·cle | \ˈspek-ti-kəl \

Kids Definition of spectacle

1 : an unusual or impressive public display (as a big parade)

2 spectacles plural : glass sense 3

3 : an object of curiosity or contempt Don't make a spectacle of yourself!

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Comments on spectacle

What made you want to look up spectacle? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


evasion of direct action or statement

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