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 Unlike some boxing spectacles, this rematch is also a fascinating athletic contest. The New Yorker, "Andy Ruiz Shocked the Boxing World—Now He’s Trying to Do It Again," 6 Dec. 2019 The Shops at Kenilworth: Few local holiday spectacles rival those within this iconic Towson mall. Sameer Rao, baltimoresun.com, "Santa, selfies and skates: Where to get your picture taken with Santa in the Baltimore area," 4 Dec. 2019 This was a game that had so much potential to fall on its face, spectacle-wise, for one team to be humbled and embarrassed. Scott Ostler, SFChronicle.com, "49ers leave rainy Baltimore a smarter team with self-esteem intact," 1 Dec. 2019 But this weekend’s spectacles hinted at how a generation growing up on social media might go about using live TV for change. Judy Berman, Time, "Live TV Has Always Been a Tool for Activism. But Gen Z Is Using It in a New Way," 25 Nov. 2019 The drummer was excused from this ridiculous spectacle. Bulletin Board, Twin Cities, "Sunday Bulletin Board: The Case of Mama Hen and the Mongrel Chicks — or: What Would Jesus Say?," 10 Nov. 2019 The tension between intimacy and spectacle explains why. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "FKA Twigs Deconstructs the Private Show," 8 Nov. 2019 American television history deserves this spectacle. Joseph Goodman | Jgoodman@al.com, al, "Leave now for the Game of the Century and Donald Trump," 6 Nov. 2019 Last March, Roger Penske was adamant about believing full-time IndyCar rides should be locked into spots in the sport's biggest spectacle. Matthew Glenesk, Indianapolis Star, "IMS, IndyCar have been sold to Penske. But what does it mean?," 4 Nov. 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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Time Traveler for spectacle

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for spectacle

Last Updated

10 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Spectacle.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spectacle?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=s&file=specta01. Accessed 14 December 2019.

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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

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to assail by words or arguments

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