spec·​tral | \ ˈspek-trəl How to pronounce spectral (audio) \

Definition of spectral

1 : of, relating to, or suggesting a specter : ghostly We felt a spectral presence in the old ballroom. No ghost stood beside me, nor anything of spectral aspect; merely a motherly, dumpy little woman, in a large shawl, a wrapping-gown, and a clean, trim nightcap.— Charlotte Brontë
2 : of, relating to, or made by a spectrum especially : relating to or derived from the electromagnetic spectrum of visible light Surfaces can differ in the proportion of incident light they reflect (dark ones reflect less than light ones) and in the spectral composition of the light they reflect. Principles Of Neural Science Their examination supported the opinion that the stone was mined in India and cut in London. They also found that the spectral characteristics overlap those of known treated green diamonds. Lapidary Journal

Other Words from spectral

spectrally \ ˈspek-​trə-​lē How to pronounce spectral (audio) \ adverb

Examples of spectral in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web His physical presence feels as spectral as his music. Chris Wheatley, Longreads, 31 July 2022 Plus, the discovery is likely to spark follow-up observations with finer spectral chunks that will allow the exact distance to be measured with more confidence. John Timmer, Ars Technica, 22 July 2022 Careful spectral analysis can reveal which arcs in deep-field images are actually mirror images and which are instead mirages. Fionna M. D. Samuels, Scientific American, 21 July 2022 This spectral quality is bewildering, even to mathematicians. Alec Wilkinson, The New Yorker, 8 July 2022 Rostand said the satellites used by Kayrros provide a spectral analysis, which can measure the concentration of methane in the atmosphere. Jamie Hailstone, Forbes, 13 Apr. 2022 The aircraft will capture real-time telemetry data and multi-spectral full-motion video, while also providing the range clearance and surveillance information, and meteorological data, to support launch decision-making. Eric Tegler, Forbes, 10 July 2022 Although other satellites track urban sprawl from space, these spectral fingerprints could reveal just how much expansion is attributable, for instance, to housing versus asphalt. Megan I. Gannon, Scientific American, 21 June 2022 In November 1937, nearly 200 members of the Klan, wearing spectral robes, publicly burned a cross during an induction ceremony. Brandon Tensley, CNN, 15 June 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'spectral.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of spectral

1769, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for spectral

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The first known use of spectral was in 1769

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spectral bat

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Last Updated

3 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Spectral.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spectral. Accessed 13 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for spectral


spec·​tral | \ ˈspek-trəl How to pronounce spectral (audio) \

Medical Definition of spectral

: of, relating to, or made by a spectrum

Other Words from spectral

spectrally adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on spectral

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for spectral

Britannica English: Translation of spectral for Arabic Speakers


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