spec·​ter ˈspek-tər How to pronounce specter (audio)
variants or spectre
: a visible disembodied spirit : ghost
: something that haunts or perturbs the mind : phantasm
the specter of hunger

Examples of specter in a Sentence

feeling so terrified that every shadow became a specter
Recent Examples on the Web Now, a series of hot inflation, retail sales, and labor market reports—along with brewing conflict in the Middle East that raises the specter of an oil price spike—have made Powell and his fellow Fed officials rapidly change their tone. Will Daniel, Fortune, 19 Apr. 2024 Though the specter of what could have been hovers over the game, the Huskies are formidable in their quest for a record-extending 12th national championship with their own star guard. Ben Morse, CNN, 5 Apr. 2024 Like The American Society of Magical Negroes, the film is concerned with the specter of racist violence. Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter, 29 Mar. 2024 For his part, Morris had a great time playing specter with one of the funniest casts on TV. Lester Fabian Brathwaite, EW.com, 26 Mar. 2024 Two elementary schools had merged and, at the time, the specter of other closures loomed. Curtis Bunn, NBC News, 21 Mar. 2024 Forty years ago, four men put on uniforms, came up with a catchy logo — a startled specter in a red circle with a slash going through it, no big whoop — strapped on some proton packs and saved New York City from an evil deity holed up in a penthouse. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 21 Mar. 2024 For all of California’s ills and hardships, nothing animated the state’s left-leaning electorate in this year’s Senate race more than the specter of former President Trump returning to the White House. Benjamin Oreskes, Los Angeles Times, 7 Mar. 2024 The once revolutionary fake meat purveyor can’t seem to outrun the looming specter of its own demise. Marnie Shure / The Takeout, Quartz, 26 Feb. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'specter.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1605, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of specter was in 1605

Dictionary Entries Near specter

Cite this Entry

“Specter.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/specter. Accessed 23 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


variants or spectre
: ghost
: something that bothers the mind

More from Merriam-Webster on specter

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