spec·​ta·​cle ˈspek-ti-kəl How to pronounce spectacle (audio)
 also  -ˌti-kəl
: something exhibited to view as unusual, notable, or entertaining
especially : an eye-catching or dramatic public display
: an object of curiosity or contempt
made a spectacle of herself
spectacles ˈspek-ti-kəlz How to pronounce spectacle (audio)
 also  -ˌti-kəlz
plural : a device used to correct defects of vision : glasses
: something (such as natural markings on an animal) suggesting a pair of glasses

Example Sentences

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 Fans freaked out over its bombastic spectacle, including scenes of wild fighting and dancing. Ashley Wong, WSJ, 11 Jan. 2023 After a dayslong spectacle over the House speakership, the 118th Congress is underway, with Republicans controlling the House and Democrats holding the Senate. Luke Broadwater, New York Times, 11 Jan. 2023 Football is America's spectacle, the entertainment gift that keeps on giving. Nate Atkins, The Indianapolis Star, 9 Jan. 2023 The public spectacle around Cyberpunk 2077's launch debacle, and the public statements from the company about its failures to recognize problems or inform customers, made an investor suit a near inevitability. Kevin Purdy, Ars Technica, 5 Jan. 2023 The celebs are thus here to provide spectacle, joy, beauty, glamour, kitsch, and maybe even outfit inspo. Jason P. Frank, Vulture, 24 Dec. 2022 But the difference between spectacle and spark, self-seriousness and serious entertainment, has never been more glaring. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, 22 Dec. 2022 The latest thing to go down during his show in São Paolo, Brazil, on December 13, was a spectacle nobody saw coming — not even the Harry's House crooner. Samantha Olson, Seventeen, 14 Dec. 2022 The story, the spectacle, the spirituality, the beauty - this is moviemaking & storytelling at its absolute finest. Lauren Huff, EW.com, 7 Dec. 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.

Word History


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 2 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


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

More from Merriam-Webster on spectacle

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