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 Now, Webre has brought his splashiest spectacle to Cincinnati Ballet, which performs it at the Aronoff Center Oct. 25-Nov. David Lyman, Cincinnati.com, "You've never seen 'The Wizard of Oz' like this," 21 Oct. 2019 The spectacle of a person being tried in another country under a foreign legal system for a killing that took place on U.S. soil is unusual, but not unprecedented. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Killing took place in New York, but Nicaragua hosts trial," 20 Oct. 2019 The final two batters of the game were their own spectacle. BostonGlobe.com, "Correa walk-off home run ties up, heats up a fun ALCS - The Boston Globe," 14 Oct. 2019 This story will play out on lesser stages, largely overshadowed by the spectacle of the world’s highest level of basketball. Bruce Jenkins, SFChronicle.com, "The NBA and China: It all comes back to money," 11 Oct. 2019 Payare made this rose-colored spectacle of environmental opportunism pop. Los Angeles Times, "Review: In San Diego and Thousand Oaks, new music directors hail new orchestral eras," 8 Oct. 2019 Miller's legal action was joined by John Major, treating Britain to the extraordinary spectacle of a former Conservative prime minister suing his successor. Bianca Britton And Sheena Mckenzie, CNN, "Huge blow for Boris Johnson as UK Supreme Court rules suspension of Parliament is unlawful," 24 Sep. 2019 With a few small gestures, the spectacle of dissent was safely absorbed into the Whitney brand borg. Rhonda Lieberman, The New Republic, "Painting Over the Dirty Truth," 23 Sep. 2019 The event, which runs Aug. 16-25, is modeled after a similar and well-known spectacle in Palm Springs that draws tens of thousands of tourists to the desert city every year for open houses, talks and parties celebrating the movement. Ray Mark Rinaldi, The Know, "Denver’s hidden midcentury-modern neighborhoods aren’t so hidden anymore," 11 Aug. 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

12 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for spectacle

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

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More Definitions for spectacle


How to pronounce spectacle (audio)

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

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


to engage in dissolute behavior

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