spectrum

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

Essential Meaning of spectrum

1 : 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 beautiful scarves in all the colors of the spectrum
2 technical : an entire range of light waves, radio waves, etc.
3 : a complete range of different opinions, people, etc. reaching voters across the political spectrum [=voters with all the different political beliefs that people have]

Full 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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Synonyms for spectrum

Synonyms

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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 This mineral, broad-spectrum sunscreen boasts SPF 30 and goes on as smooth as butter with a slightly yellow tint that blends evenly and seamlessly into the skin. Health.com, 29 Sep. 2021 Skin experts unanimously agree that even the most minimalist of skin care routines calls for broad-spectrum UV protection of at least SPF 30 every single day. Jessica Ourisman, Harper's BAZAAR, 24 Sep. 2021 With fatty-acid-rich avocado oil, hyaluronic acid, and 150mg of full-spectrum CBD, Happy Dance’s first facial moisturizer is designed to soothe skin. Arden Fanning Andrew, Vogue, 18 Aug. 2021 The list also included sales from the strategic petroleum reserve and wireless-spectrum auction sales among the other revenue raisers. Andrew Duehren, WSJ, 10 Aug. 2021 That corrupt and poorly designed attempt to Americanize European soccer was a full-spectrum disaster. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 9 Aug. 2021 Infused with niacinamide, ceramides and thermal water, this oil-free moisturizer from La Roche Posay helps fortify skin's natural barrier while offering broad-spectrum sun protection. Noma Nazish, Forbes, 27 June 2021 Across the pop culture spectrum, Chu has been particularly impressed by Billie Eilish and Olivia Rodrigo. Angelique Jackson, Variety, 30 Sep. 2021 Some political insiders speculate he’s positioning himself more toward the moderate side of San Francisco’s extremely narrow political spectrum in his bid for state Assembly. Heather Knight, San Francisco Chronicle, 29 Sep. 2021

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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Dictionary Entries Near spectrum

spectrous

spectrum

spectrum analysis

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Statistics for spectrum

Last Updated

14 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Spectrum.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spectrum. Accessed 18 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for spectrum

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 spectrum (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

More from Merriam-Webster on spectrum

Nglish: Translation of spectrum for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of spectrum for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about spectrum

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