spectacle

noun

spec·​ta·​cle ˈspek-ti-kəl How to pronounce spectacle (audio)
 also  -ˌti-kəl
1
a
: 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 ˈspek-ti-kəlz How to pronounce spectacle (audio)
 also  -ˌti-kəlz
plural : a device used to correct defects of vision : glasses
3
: something (such as natural markings on an animal) suggesting a pair of glasses

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 This annual spectacle, which has expanded its icy thrills to Aspen, USA, challenges drivers and machines against the elements, creating a stage where only the most resilient and precise can excel. Bhanu Chopra, Forbes, 21 Feb. 2024 At the same time, the pacing proves more halting, particularly in the first hour or so of this 166-minute spectacle, which plunges deeply into the intricacies of imperial politics and Fremen customs, punctuated by skirmishes in the larger war. Brian Lowry, CNN, 21 Feb. 2024 Two sets of lessons emerge from this sorry spectacle, one about process and the other about policy. Gideon Rose, Foreign Affairs, 20 Feb. 2024 But the spectacle lasted only a few hours before all of the snow melted as the sun ascended and radiated through the clouds. Kevin Ambrose, Washington Post, 19 Feb. 2024 Nowhere has that been more evident, so far, than in Ohtani’s show-stopping batting practice spectacles, which have already become the early highlight of Dodgers spring training. Jack Harris, Los Angeles Times, 16 Feb. 2024 The host and his guest-of-honor, Kay Graham, greeted each one before plunging them into the great black-and-white spectacle of the ball, a color scheme inspired by Cecil Beaton’s Ascot scene for My Fair Lady. Gloria Steinem, Vogue, 14 Feb. 2024 Their blind 11-year-old son Daniel (Milo Machado Graner) is caught in the middle of the grueling court case and media spectacle while also grieving his father. Charna Flam, Peoplemag, 13 Feb. 2024 This crudely unfinished dump of songs is hiding behind a spectacle. Matthew Strauss, Pitchfork, 10 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'spectacle.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near spectacle

Cite this Entry

“Spectacle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spectacle. Accessed 3 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

spectacle

noun
spec·​ta·​cle ˈspek-ti-kəl How to pronounce spectacle (audio)
1
a
: an unusual or impressive public display
b
: an object of curious or annoyed attention
made a spectacle of yourself at the party
2
Etymology

Middle English spectacle "spectacle," from early French spectacle (same meaning), from Latin spectaculum (same meaning), from spectare "to watch," from specere "to look, look at" — related to auspice, expect

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