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 The charges drew a stinging public response from Kim Foxx, who quickly raised the specter of a conspiracy against her. USA TODAY, "New Jussie Smollett case could complicate reelection of top Chicago prosecutor Kim Foxx," 15 Feb. 2020 Such claims, or even the hint of them, raise the specter of a lawsuit, which companies quickly try to head off. James B. Stewart, New York Times, "A Top L Brands Executive Complained of Harassment. Then She Was Locked Out.," 3 Feb. 2020 Massive undertakings like sea walls raise the specter of inequality. Matt Simon, Wired, "Not to Ruin the Super Bowl, But the Sea Is Consuming Miami," 31 Jan. 2020 The outbreak in Wuhan has raised the specter of SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome. NBC News, "China says it's possible new virus could spread between humans," 15 Jan. 2020 The specter of a Cheney bid to replace retiring Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wy., loomed large over the Wyoming Senate field, even though Cheney's House Republican colleague, Rep. Cynthia Lummis, jumped in only weeks after Enzi's decision. Ben Kamisar, NBC News, "Liz Cheney will not run for Senate," 17 Jan. 2020 Among Democrats at Biden’s rallies, the specter of 2016 of the brutal Hillary Clinton-Sanders battle still looms large. Philip Elliott / Creston, Time, "Biden's Holiday Pitch to Iowa: I'm the Best Candidate to Beat Trump," 23 Dec. 2019 That specter looms large, given that PG&E’s outdated equipment and managerial negligence has been blamed for the series of deadly wildfires that raged through Northern California in 2017 and 2018, killing dozens. BostonGlobe.com, "You're using a browser set to private or incognito mode.," 19 Dec. 2019 Yet the specter of that ignominious effort looms over the Hawks, who moved beyond the loss but haven’t forgotten it. Jimmy Greenfield, chicagotribune.com, "The Blackhawks’ last trip to Nashville was an ‘embarrassment,’ Jonathan Toews says. Now on a recent surge, they welcome a rematch with the Predators.," 15 Nov. 2019

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

26 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Specter.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/specter. Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for specter


How to pronounce specter (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for specter

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with specter

Spanish Central: Translation of specter

Nglish: Translation of specter for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of specter for Arabic Speakers

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