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

Examples of specter in a Sentence

feeling so terrified that every shadow became a specter
Recent Examples on the Web Following Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine, the specter of armed conflict looms ever larger over Moldova. Ayman Oghanna, NBC News, 21 Apr. 2022 Millions have been internally displaced by conflict, according to the United Nations, and the specter of famine looms large over much of the country, particularly after foreign aid stopped when the Taliban took power. Robert Hart, Forbes, 26 Jan. 2022 And as the occasional checkpoints on the calendar – Dec. 1, the Christmas and New Year’s holiday week, Feb. 1, the mid-February start of spring training, March 1 – arrive without a new deal, the specter of a work stoppage looms larger. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, 30 Nov. 2021 Throughout it all, the specter of Covid-19 still looms over the vote. Caitlin Hu, CNN, 7 Nov. 2021 So unfortunately, that specter looms over any potential SSX news. Paige Lyman, Wired, 3 Nov. 2021 The specter of 2010 looms large: a unified Democratic government pushed through the Affordable Care Act and still suffered sweeping losses that fall. New York Times, 25 Sep. 2021 The specter of further gameday changes, including vaccination requirements, looms as COVID-19 cases continue to rise, just two weeks before the season. Ryan Kartje, Los Angeles Times, 19 Aug. 2021 Russia’s reported use of the KUB-BLA drone raises the specter of autonomous weapon systems deciding who dies during warfare. Andrew Couts, Wired, 19 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for specter

Time Traveler

The first known use of specter was in 1605

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Dictionary Entries Near specter



specter bat

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Statistics for specter

Last Updated

21 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Specter.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/specter. Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for specter


variants: or spectre \ ˈspek-​tər \

Kids Definition of specter

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

More from Merriam-Webster on specter

Nglish: Translation of specter for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of specter for Arabic Speakers


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