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 Brockton school system, which was part of the landmark school funding lawsuit in 1993, raised the specter of litigation over two years ago and again last month — joined by Worcester and New Bedford officials. James Vaznis, BostonGlobe.com, "Parents to file civil rights lawsuit against state over unequal school funding," 13 June 2019 Without the continuing specter of their father’s abuse, can the twins develop a healthy understanding of self, of relationships, of family? Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, "Big Little Lies Ponders What Makes a Man," 10 June 2019 So with the specter of a new regime, some media and fans debated his actions through the prism of sports selfishness, necessary learning, larger teamwork, developing culture and earning his good pay. Dave Hyde, sun-sentinel.com, "Hyde: Reshad Jones is back with Dolphins — but question of his future won’t go away | Commentary," 4 June 2019 Still, the specter of Cambridge Analytica puts a real limit on how much data companies are willing to share. Russell Brandom, The Verge, "Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter partner for ambitious new data project," 20 July 2018 The specter of Venezuela Petro’s anti-corruption platform has turned him into a real contender in this election. Ian Bremmer, Time, "5 Reasons Why Right-Wing Senator Ivan Duque Is Likely to Win Colombia's Presidential Election," 1 June 2018 No one in any country should have to live with the specter of gun violence. Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, "Why Gun Violence Is a Women's Issue," 27 Mar. 2019 Few things terrify today’s bank CEOs more than the specter of a big technology company elbowing them aside. Peter Rudegeair, WSJ, "A $150,000 Small Business Loan—From an App," 28 Dec. 2018 Unsurprisingly, the specter of arrest and deportation is more than enough to keep children from school. Luke Darby, GQ, "Betsy DeVos Says Schools Should Call ICE on Undocumented Students," 26 May 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

18 Jun 2019

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

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with specter

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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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