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 real-life sky spectacle comes two days before the magic of Frozen 2 is set to hit theaters. Joelle Goldstein, PEOPLE.com, "Northern Lights Will Be Visible in Parts of the United States — Just in Time for Frozen 2!," 20 Nov. 2019 Immediately the media began releasing information suggesting Kaepernick wasn’t serious about returning to the NFL and the spectacle that revolves around him. Alba Anthony, Essence, "Kaepernick Is Ready To Play, As Soon As The NFL Stops Trying To ‘Play’ Him," 18 Nov. 2019 As the impeachment spectacle unfolds in Washington, attention is focused on President Trump and the ramifications for domestic politics. Anton Troianovski, New York Times, "As Talks With Putin Loom, Ukraine Looks in Vain for U.S. Help," 14 Nov. 2019 How to watch Telescopes or binoculars with solar filters were recommended for viewing the celestial spectacle. CBS News, "Mercury puts on rare show as it passes directly between Earth and the sun," 11 Nov. 2019 As is common at Trump rallies, the spectacle outside the arena offered a tale of two realities. Chris Kenning, The Courier-Journal, "Trump in Kentucky: Protesters and Trump supporters trade insults, talk impeachment debate," 4 Nov. 2019 Neighbors would join them out in the front yard to give out their own candy and enjoy the spectacle. Steven Goode, courant.com, "A Windsor couple has been giving balloons to trick-or-treaters for 40 years, but this year the tradition ends," 31 Oct. 2019 In the audience plump dignitaries in bright orange turbans sat comfortably on white leather armchairs, discoursing on the spectacle. The Economist, "In the ring with India’s most powerful woman," 25 Oct. 2019 Coach of the New Zealand rugby team, Steve Hansen, has shares in Nature Strip, who is running in the spectacle shortly before the All Blacks face Ireland in the Rugby World Cup quarterfinals. Ben Church, CNN, "The Everest: return of world's richest turf race with about $10M up for grabs," 17 Oct. 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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Learn More about spectacle

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

26 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Spectacle.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spectacles?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=s&file=spect01m. Accessed 9 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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