spectral

adjective

spec·​tral ˈspek-trəl How to pronounce spectral (audio)
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
spectrally adverb

Examples of spectral in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Previously, other researchers used an instrument on SOFIA to examine particular wavelengths of light, called spectral signatures, emitted by molecules on the moon. Catherine Duncan, Smithsonian Magazine, 16 Feb. 2024 The results of the study showed that changes in the spectral signatures of the macular pigment were strongly associated with changes in the severity of the disease. William A. Haseltine, Forbes, 15 Feb. 2024 Kai’s ghost won’t leave Cam alone; his spectral visits wild, tender, and unexpected. Sarah Yang, Sunset Magazine, 7 Feb. 2024 Its compact design, roughly the size of 10cm x 10cm x 10cm, stands in stark contrast to the bulky nature of traditional spectral thermal imagers. IEEE Spectrum, 3 Feb. 2024 The resulting quantum dots had a good size distribution and were tunable over a broad spectral range, including SWIR. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 18 Jan. 2024 Sally Mann has made spectral trees and forests befogged with darkness into metaphors for the unresolved traumas of history. Philip Kennicott, Washington Post, 24 Jan. 2024 Normally, gaseous atmospheric methane in a brown dwarf absorbs the infrared light that comes up from below, so there’s a dip in brightness at certain spectral wavelengths. Phil Plait, Scientific American, 19 Jan. 2024 The movie is shot from the perspective of the spectral entity at its center. Brent Lang, Variety, 12 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'spectral.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1769, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of spectral was in 1769

Dictionary Entries Near spectral

Cite this Entry

“Spectral.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spectral. Accessed 1 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

spectral

adjective
spec·​tral ˈspek-trəl How to pronounce spectral (audio)
1
: of, relating to, or suggesting a specter : ghostly
2
: of, relating to, or made by a spectrum

Medical Definition

spectral

adjective
spec·​tral ˈspek-trəl How to pronounce spectral (audio)
: of, relating to, or made by a spectrum
spectrally adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on spectral

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