spec·​ter | \ ˈspek-tər How to pronounce specter (audio) \
variants: or spectre

Definition of specter

1 : a visible disembodied spirit : ghost
2 : something that haunts or perturbs the mind : phantasm the specter of hunger

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Examples of specter in a Sentence

feeling so terrified that every shadow became a specter

Recent Examples on the Web

But there, as in here, the specter of a president acting on impulse and prejudice loomed large. Cristian Farias, Daily Intelligencer, "It’s Donald Trump’s Supreme Court Now," 26 June 2018 Jonathan Anderson looked completely at peace in Paris earlier this week, despite the specter of his latest Loewe show looming in short distance. Monica Kim, Vogue, "J.W. Anderson on the Beauty of Being Basic—And His Latest Uniqlo Collection," 3 Mar. 2019 This leads to the terrifying specter of independent actors intentionally (or unintentionally) engineering pathogens with the potential to inflict worse harm than history’s deadliest pandemics. R. Daniel Bressler, Vox, "“Designer bugs”: how the next pandemic might come from a lab," 6 Dec. 2018 Meanwhile, the specter of death hangs around the Inhumans and the Ghost Rider of a dark future in Donny Cates's Death of Inhumans and Cosmic Ghost Rider. Phillip Molnar, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Comic Con 2018: Here's your Saturday schedule," 7 July 2018 The specter of a new conflict with Israel hangs over the territory. Erin Cunningham, Washington Post, "Gazans have survived years of war. Now depression is killing them.," 20 June 2018 Last: 8 Stats: 27.4 PPG, 8.8 APG, 36.1% 3FG The specter of LeBron James’ future will hang over this pick whether warranted or not, but the Cavs simply could use some young talent regardless. Jeremy Woo, SI.com, "2018 NBA Mock Draft 7.1: Projecting All 60 Picks Post-Combine," 21 May 2018 The specter of divorce always hangs there and deciding on a contract like this might be a good way to align your expectations. refinery29.com, "Even If Harry & Meghan Don’t Get A Prenup, You Might Want One," 18 Mar. 2018 Still, the specter of the F-2 program, widely considered a failure that barely resulted in usable airplane, hangs over the prospect of any future aircraft cooperation. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Japan May Scrap Its Homegrown Fighter Jet," 12 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'specter.' 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 specter

1605, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for specter

French spectre, from Latin spectrum appearance, specter, from specere to look, look at — more at spy

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Statistics for specter

Last Updated

9 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for specter

The first known use of specter was in 1605

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More Definitions for specter



English Language Learners Definition of specter

literary : a ghost or spirit of a dead person


variants: or spectre \ ˈspek-​tər \

Kids Definition of specter

1 : ghost
2 : something that haunts or bothers the mind the specter of starvation

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More from Merriam-Webster on specter

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with specter

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for specter

Spanish Central: Translation of specter

Nglish: Translation of specter for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of specter for Arabic Speakers

Comments on specter

What made you want to look up specter? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


marked by a state of overwhelming emotion

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