spectrum

noun
spec·​trum | \ ˈspek-trəm How to pronounce spectrum (audio) \
plural spectra\ ˈspek-​trə How to pronounce spectra (audio) \ or spectrums

Definition of spectrum

1a : a continuum of color formed when a beam of white light is dispersed (as by passage through a prism) so that its component wavelengths are arranged in order
b : any of various continua that resemble a color spectrum in consisting of an ordered arrangement by a particular characteristic (such as frequency or energy): such as
(3) : the range of frequencies of sound waves
c : the representation (such as a plot) of a spectrum
2a : a continuous sequence or range a wide spectrum of interests opposite ends of the political spectrum
b : kinds of organisms associated with a particular situation (such as an environment)
c : a range of effectiveness against pathogenic organisms an antibiotic with a broad spectrum
on the spectrum
: exhibiting traits associated with autism spectrum disorder … quiet areas and sensory bags with headphones … and other ways to help kids who are on the spectrum cope with unfamiliar, noisy surroundings.— Rachel Molenda … Stephanie Adams, cofounder of the Autism and Asperger's Society, said: "We started the society because we wanted to make a place where people on the spectrum can spend their time and not feel isolated. …"— Kelsey Maxwell

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Examples of spectrum in a Sentence

beautiful scarves in all the colors of the spectrum the complete spectrum of opinions on this hotly debated subject
Recent Examples on the Web Sophomores Jayden Daly of St. Augustine and Marcus Ratcliffe of Cathedral Catholic are at the opposite end of the football spectrum from Lloyd, Brooks and Vohnout. John Maffei, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Mission Hills’ Lloyd impresses at NFL-style combine for high school players," 20 Oct. 2020 Without getting too far into the technicalities, this refers to a portion of wireless spectrum that is extremely fast but doesn’t travel very far and has trouble penetrating buildings. Eric Ravenscraft, Wired, "Is 5G Available for You? Here's How to Find Out," 20 Oct. 2020 On the other end of the fast food spectrum, Yo Tambien Cantina supplied hot dogs for last week’s Dawgs for Democracy event, a roving fundraiser for local voting rights organizations. Soleil Ho, SFChronicle.com, "Ethical grocery shopping was never the answer anyway," 19 Oct. 2020 At the other end of the social spectrum were the residents of the segregated ethnic enclaves. Tom Dillard, Arkansas Online, "The mineral that built a town," 18 Oct. 2020 The hoglet — which takes its name from its resemblance to a baby hedgehog — is specially designed with elements from a fidget toy to increase focus for those with developmental disabilities and autism spectrum disorders. Ariana Taylor, Star Tribune, "This company reinvented the computer mouse, with good reason," 18 Oct. 2020 Using spectrum-sharing technology lets network operators mix older, 4G signals with new, 5G transmissions within the same radio channel. Drew Fitzgerald, WSJ, "New 5G iPhones Kick Off Poaching Season for Carriers," 17 Oct. 2020 South Carolina conservatives are wary of Graham, given his reputation for vacillating between the political spectrum's far-right and center depending on the electoral calendar, according to Jeffrey. Naomi Lim, Washington Examiner, "Graham hopes for last-minute Senate campaign boost from Supreme Court hearings," 16 Oct. 2020 Although low levels of the hormone have been linked to depression, autism and autistic spectrum disorders, there’s not currently enough evidence to support manipulating oxytocin levels as a treatment for any of these conditions. Sarah Graham, refinery29.com, "The Truth About Oxytocin AKA The Love Hormone," 16 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'spectrum.' 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 spectrum

1672, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for spectrum

New Latin, from Latin, appearance — more at specter

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Time Traveler for spectrum

Time Traveler

The first known use of spectrum was in 1672

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Statistics for spectrum

Last Updated

25 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Spectrum.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spectrum. Accessed 25 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for spectrum

spectrum

noun
How to pronounce spectrum (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of spectrum

: the group of colors that a ray of light can be separated into including red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet : the colors that can be seen in a rainbow
technical : an entire range of light waves, radio waves, etc.
: a complete range of different opinions, people, etc.

spectrum

noun
spec·​trum | \ ˈspek-trəm How to pronounce spectrum (audio) \
plural spectra\ -​trə \ or spectrums

Kids Definition of spectrum

: the group of different colors including red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet seen when light passes through a prism and falls on a surface or when sunlight is affected by drops of water (as in a rainbow)

spectrum

noun
spec·​trum | \ ˈspek-trəm How to pronounce spectrum (audio) \
plural spectra\ -​trə How to pronounce spectra (audio) \ or spectrums

Medical Definition of spectrum

1a : a continuum of color formed when a beam of white light is dispersed (as by passage through a prism) so that its component wavelengths are arranged in order
b : any of various continua that resemble a spectrum in consisting of an ordered arrangement by a particular characteristic (as frequency or energy): as
c : the representation (as a plot) of a spectrum
2 : a continuous sequence or range specifically : a range of effectiveness against pathogenic organisms — see broad-spectrum, narrow-spectrum

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