spec·​ta·​cle | \ ˈspek-ti-kəl How to pronounce spectacle (audio) 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\ ˈspek-​ti-​kəlz How to pronounce spectacles (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

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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

Bodexpress provided a memorable spectacle as War of Will fulfilled his potential at Pimlico. Stephen Whyno, The Seattle Times, "Preakness winner War of Will likely to run in Belmont," 19 May 2019 Its track sliced in and out of the giant structure, wooing onlookers with a visual spectacle. Matt Blitz, Popular Mechanics, "From Death Traps to Disneyland: The 600-Year History of the Roller Coaster," 13 Aug. 2018 These spindles are stacked with slices of pork and chicken, pressed, seared crisp on the vertical broiler, and shaved to order by owner Ali Kalatzakis with a buzzing, circular electric knife — a spectacle unto itself. Alex Kiesig, idahostatesman, "'I love this city': Eat your way through the Capital City Public Market," 6 July 2018 The highlight of their set, though, was the circle pit DeVore encouraged fans to form around the soundboard, a wildly entertaining spectacle. Ed Masley, azcentral, "Vans Warped Tour says goodbye to Phoenix in its final summer on the road," 29 June 2018 But to launch a spectacle like the eXPERIENCE + iNNOCENCE Tour at Madison Square Garden is something else entirely. Jordan Runtagh, PEOPLE.com, "Are You Experience-ed? U2 Brings Spellbinding Tech-Heavy Tour to Madison Square Garden," 28 June 2018 Following that trip, Kennedy wanted to promote a spectacle to humanize the problem of poverty. Alice George, Smithsonian, "On the Eve of his Death, Robert Kennedy Was a Whirlwind of Empathy and Internal Strife," 7 June 2018 Who doesn’t love a ridiculous, exhausting spectacle? Allison P. Davis, The Cut, "Is Kanye the Best Thing to Happen to Wyoming, or the Worst?," 1 June 2018 Victoria’s Secret will no longer air its annual fashion show on network television after declining viewership and increasing criticism of the spectacle featuring supermodels in the retailer’s skimpy lingerie. Khadeeja Safdar, WSJ, "Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show Leaving Network TV," 10 May 2019

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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Statistics for spectacle

Last Updated

11 Jun 2019

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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
old-fashioned : a pair of lenses set into a frame and worn over the eyes


spec·​ta·​cle | \ ˈspek-ti-kəl How to pronounce spectacle (audio) \

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

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showing courage and determination

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