spec·​tral | \ˈspek-trəl \

Definition of spectral 

1 : of, relating to, or suggesting a specter : ghostly

2 : of, relating to, or made by a spectrum

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Other Words from spectral

spectrally \ˈspek-​trə-​lē \ adverb

Examples of spectral in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Over the next six weeks, Kate’s a light, almost spectral presence in the apartment. Fernanda Eberstadt, Vogue, "Wild, Free, and Utterly Lost—Writer Fernanda Eberstadt on the Panic and Pitfalls of Post-Collegiate Life," 30 July 2018 Pablo’s presence in Picasso’s life had been spectral, at best. Marley Marius, Vogue, "On the Heels of an $88 Million Picasso Sale, Olivier Widmaier Picasso Talks Art, Life, and His Very Famous Grandfather," 12 Nov. 2018 According to an obituary shared by the program, the show became syndicated across the country in 1993 and drew in listeners with its wee-hours chatter about conspiracy theories and aliens, shadow people and spectral energy. Sasha Savitsky, Fox News, "'Coast to Coast AM' host Art Bell's cause of death revealed," 3 Aug. 2018 To identify galaxies that have a small AGN, the team looked for spectral peaks that were sharp at the top but smeared out around the base. Daniel Clery, Science | AAAS, "Discovery of middleweight black holes could explain origin of million-solar-mass monster," 30 May 2018 Basquiat’s presence in the film is more spectral as a result. New York Times, "Review: ‘Boom for Real’ Is a Beguiling Look at a Teenage Basquiat," 30 Apr. 2018 Later, the performers elicited daubs of tone from conventional instruments, as if translating those found objects into spectral music. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, "The Sonic Fury of the Ojai Music Festival," 24 June 2018 Either some poor editor painstakingly erased Mike from the establishing shots, or some poor editor plopped his Photoshopped spectral form into some random footage. Rebecca Farley, refinery29.com, "The Proposal Is A Disturbing Anti-Women Episode Of Next," 19 June 2018 Violet would derive strength from her mother’s spectral presence, which would perch next to her sleeping bag in the Parr kids’ cave hideaway. refinery29.com, "The Subtle Reason Why Pixar Movies Differ From The Disney Classics Of Yore," 15 June 2018

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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Statistics for spectral

Last Updated

5 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for spectral

The first known use of spectral was in 1769

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More Definitions for spectral



English Language Learners Definition of spectral

: of, relating to, or suggesting a ghost

: of, relating to, or made by a spectrum


spec·​tral | \ˈspek-trəl \

Medical Definition of spectral 

: of, relating to, or made by a spectrum

Other Words from spectral

spectrally adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on spectral

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with spectral

Britannica English: Translation of spectral for Arabic Speakers

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