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

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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 And the spectral Reptile has gotten a nice face-lift by way of much better CGI — but tellingly, like Goro, still looks a bit unreal, as if looking sorta bad was the point. K. Austin Collins, Rolling Stone, "Good Guys Are Boring. Luckily, ‘Mortal Kombat’ Luxuriates in the Bad," 23 Apr. 2021 Eventually, the song dissolves into a kind of spectral electro-fever. Amanda Petrusich, The New Yorker, "The Afrofuturist Sounds of Dawn Richard," 19 Apr. 2021 When a small-time thief disappeared, police — some of them Carson’s longtime adversaries — launched a massive investigation into a spectral underworld of street hustlers, junkies and snitches. Los Angeles Times, "Los Angeles Times Launches Spring Audio Slate with ‘The Times’ Daily News Podcast," 19 Apr. 2021 In one, strips of crystal marked by glowing red imperfections seem to glint with spectral light along a blue background. Edward Rothstein, WSJ, "Web: ‘Invisible Beauty: The Art of Archaeological Science’ Review: More Than Meets the Eye," 7 Apr. 2021 The resulting series is a monochromatic blue-and-black frieze of solitary men seemingly trapped inside spectral cages. Jeremy Lybarger, The New Republic, "The Turbulent Life of Francis Bacon," 7 Apr. 2021 Mechagodzilla’s unrelenting brutalization of Godzilla could be a spectral revenge-stomping by a dead gladiator, meant to punish the fighter that killed it. Matt Zoller Seitz, Vulture, "My Heart Belongs to the MonsterVerse," 7 Apr. 2021 But her phosphine research also inspired composer David Ibbett, who turned the spectral data into musical compositions. Eva Amsen, Forbes, "Phosphine Data Which Hinted At Possible Life On Venus Also Inspired Musical Composition," 18 Mar. 2021 The work oscillates between the corporeal and the spectral. Ana Karina Zatarain, The New Yorker, "Picturing the Surreality of Grief for Mexico’s Disappeared," 18 Mar. 2021

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.

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First Known Use of spectral

1769, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for spectral

Time Traveler

The first known use of spectral was in 1769

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Statistics for spectral

Last Updated

11 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Spectral.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spectral. Accessed 15 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for spectral



English Language Learners Definition of spectral

literary : of, relating to, or suggesting a ghost
technical : of, relating to, or made by a spectrum


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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