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 LaVergne had raised the specter of racial bias by hotel officials. Ken Ritter, ajc, "OJ Simpson, Las Vegas Strip hotel settle defamation case," 9 Apr. 2021 Albany police on Thursday announced that the matter had been referred to them, raising the specter of legal consequences for Cuomo. Nicholas Rowan, Washington Examiner, "Majority of New York lawmakers demand Cuomo resign," 11 Mar. 2021 Newly saddled with the baggage of COVID-19, reinfection has taken on a more terrifying aspect, raising the specter of never-ending cycles of disease. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, "We’re Thinking About Reinfection All Wrong," 24 Feb. 2021 The spate of refinery outages along the Texas Gulf Coast because of freezing weather is raising the specter of gasoline at the pump reaching $3 a gallon for the first time since 2014. Bloomberg Wire, Dallas News, "Chilling effect: Gasoline prices could climb to $3 a gallon in storm’s wake," 16 Feb. 2021 During that heated Town Hall debate in 1997, an audience member asked August Wilson about his mixed racial heritage, in effect, raising the specter of Frederick Kittel Sr. Jake Lamar, The New Republic, "August Wilson’s Uncompromising Vision for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom," 14 Jan. 2021 Talks on a new agreement to avoid tariffs and quotas have so far failed to produce a deal, raising the specter of further disruption and price rises in the new year. Julia Horowitz, CNN, "$900 billion in stimulus is coming. More is needed but isn't guaranteed," 22 Dec. 2020 Administration officials, including Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, conducted meetings last week in Seoul, Tokyo and New Delhi — conversations where the specter of China loomed large. Washington Post, "Where the U.S. and China go from here," 22 Mar. 2021 From start to finish, the specter of COVID-19 loomed large over the 2020 college football season and the national championship game was no exception. BostonGlobe.com, "Perfect ending: Alabama blasts Ohio State for national title," 11 Jan. 2021

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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Time Traveler for specter

Time Traveler

The first known use of specter was in 1605

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Statistics for specter

Last Updated

15 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Specter.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/specter. Accessed 19 Apr. 2021.

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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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