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

The Crazy Planning for the Macy’s Fireworks Show Begins in the California Desert The annual Fourth of July spectacle will be seen by millions in New York and across the country. Jake Michaels, New York Times, "The Crazy Planning for the Macy’s Fireworks Show Begins in the California Desert," 2 July 2019 Fully staged opera productions alternated with feats of avant-garde spectacle. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, "Meredith Monk’s “ATLAS” and the L.A. Phil’s Extraordinary Season," 24 June 2019 As old-fashioned as the story might be, Lala both honors the Busby Berkeley-era look while infusing it with all the pizazz of a modern Broadway spectacle. nola.com, "Summer Lyric presents tap-happy love song to Broadway with ‘42nd Street’," 19 June 2019 His courtside antics are now part of the spectacle. The Economist, "Canadians are embracing basketball," 14 June 2019 The most intriguing item in the hoard resembles a pair of spectacles. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Bronze Age ‘Birdman’ Had a Headdress Made of Dozens of Bird Beaks, Skulls," 5 June 2019 Still, the sentiment was so romantic and Kim later showed off another angle of the spectacle, proving to her fans that Kenny G had a walkway to safely exit the living room. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Here's How All of Your Favorite Celeb Couples Celebrated Valentine's Day," 15 Feb. 2019 Exciting locations, tons of cars, tight but still fun handling, and full of spectacle. Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "Forza Horizon 4 hands-on: A song of ice and tires," 11 June 2018 Leaving aside its origins, what is dismaying is the clumsiness of the satire on manipulative moguls: Despite the formidable presence of John Malkovich, the play offers the rare spectacle of Mamet punching below his weight. Jessica Gelt, latimes.com, "David Mamet’s Harvey Weinstein play opens. The reviews? ‘Monstrous misfire’," 20 June 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

9 Jul 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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