spec·​ter | \ˈspek-tər \
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

The specter of 2016's vote was cited repeatedly by speakers during Monday's meeting. Lily Altavena, azcentral, "Mesa approves lease to bring ASU to its downtown," 4 June 2018 Like every other team out west, the Rockets have operated for the past four years under the Warriors' specter. Lee Jenkins, SI.com, "Big Hearts and Short Fuses: Draymond Green Doesn't Believe in Switch-Flipping," 16 May 2018 Nigeria’s past, present and future converge in these stories, where the relationships between mothers and daughters often play a central role; many stories linger under the specter of war. Joumana Khatib, New York Times, "Paperback Row," 20 Apr. 2018 The ghosts that haunt Boise's El Korah Shrine Temple are about as predictable as specters get. Maria L. La Ganga, idahostatesman, "What’s behind ’60s-era paneling at El Korah Shrine? A ballroom’s worth of ’20s art.," 12 July 2018 The specter who’s about to change our future will look just like America’s past. Rebecca Traister, The Cut, "With Brett Kavanaugh, Trump Passes Up the Chance to Have a Woman Do His Dirty Work," 9 July 2018 The Soviet Union, a global superpower, disintegrated, and the specter of communism was exorcised from the continent. Jonathan Bradley, Billboard, "Dream Up the World You're Gonna Live In: How U2's 'Zooropa' Got the Future Wrong, 25 Years Later," 5 July 2018 The specter of a potential collapse has been hanging over Germany’s grand coalition for weeks. Philipp Adorf, Washington Post, "Angela Merkel’s governing alliance is increasingly frayed. Here’s why.," 3 July 2018 The specter of navigating James in the Western Conference is an immediate shot across the bow of every team besides Golden State and Houston, who won’t and shouldn’t be panicking. Jeremy Woo, SI.com, "Examining the Biggest Ripple Effects of LeBron James's Decision to Join Lakers," 1 July 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

8 Oct 2018

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

: 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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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).


something that serves to warn or remind

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