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 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 The rapper proposed to his longtime girlfriend in another public spectacle five years prior, during the 2013 BET Awards, according to People, though the couple hadn't officially tied the knot since then. Chelsey Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, 3 May 2022 Of course, those familiar with Black’s work in recent years couldn’t have been too surprised by the spectacle. Josh Chesler, SPIN, 22 Apr. 2022 Lukashenko seemed to delight in the spectacle of the humanitarian disaster. New York Times, 30 Mar. 2022 Exposito: Kanye has really reveled in the spectacle of calling that out. Los Angeles Times, 29 Mar. 2022 The Republicans of course beclowned themselves in the Jackson-confirmation spectacle, because that is what Republicans do now. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, 27 Mar. 2022 There was something absurd in the spectacle of conservative politicians who have never shown any interest in supporting women’s sports, which are chronically underfunded and underexposed, moralizing about the sanctity of collegiate women’s swimming. Louisa Thomas, The New Yorker, 17 Mar. 2022 For some at the DWR’s animal parts option, the event is a spectacle. Paighten Harkins, The Salt Lake Tribune, 30 Apr. 2022 With Earth Day coming up soon, the Lyrids meteor shower is sure to be a fun spectacle. Kelsie Gibson, PEOPLE.com, 18 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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

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spectacle clew

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Last Updated

14 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Spectacle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spectacle. Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for spectacle


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!

More from Merriam-Webster on spectacle

Nglish: Translation of spectacle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of spectacle for Arabic Speakers


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