spec·​ter | \ ˈspek-tər How to pronounce specter (audio) \
variants: or spectre

Definition of specter

1 : a visible disembodied spirit : ghost
2 : something that haunts or perturbs the mind : phantasm the specter of hunger

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Examples of specter in a Sentence

feeling so terrified that every shadow became a specter

Recent Examples on the Web

The specter of falling short of the finish line haunts Chavez Ravine, though. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Machado’s ‘bet’ with Dodgers fan shows off new Padres edge," 6 July 2019 Since then, a spate of attacks on oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz shipping choke point have raised the specter of war and pushed up oil prices. Saleha Mohsin, Fortune, "Trump Sanctions Iran's Supreme Leader in Provocative Move," 24 June 2019 As the decision to not declare a PHEIC faces criticism from various legal and public health experts, the specter of the West African outbreak, which peaked in 2014, hovers over it all. B. David Zarley, Quartz Africa, "As first Ebola case found in Uganda, there are questions over WHO’s reaction time," 12 June 2019 The Brockton school system, which was part of the landmark school funding lawsuit in 1993, raised the specter of litigation over two years ago and again last month — joined by Worcester and New Bedford officials. James Vaznis, BostonGlobe.com, "Parents to file civil rights lawsuit against state over unequal school funding," 13 June 2019 Without the continuing specter of their father’s abuse, can the twins develop a healthy understanding of self, of relationships, of family? Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, "Big Little Lies Ponders What Makes a Man," 10 June 2019 So with the specter of a new regime, some media and fans debated his actions through the prism of sports selfishness, necessary learning, larger teamwork, developing culture and earning his good pay. Dave Hyde, sun-sentinel.com, "Hyde: Reshad Jones is back with Dolphins — but question of his future won’t go away | Commentary," 4 June 2019 Still, the specter of Cambridge Analytica puts a real limit on how much data companies are willing to share. Russell Brandom, The Verge, "Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter partner for ambitious new data project," 20 July 2018 The specter of Venezuela Petro’s anti-corruption platform has turned him into a real contender in this election. Ian Bremmer, Time, "5 Reasons Why Right-Wing Senator Ivan Duque Is Likely to Win Colombia's Presidential Election," 1 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'specter.' 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 specter

1605, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for specter

French spectre, from Latin spectrum appearance, specter, from specere to look, look at — more at spy

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Statistics for specter

Last Updated

16 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for specter

The first known use of specter was in 1605

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More Definitions for specter



English Language Learners Definition of specter

literary : a ghost or spirit of a dead person


variants: or spectre \ ˈspek-​tər \

Kids Definition of specter

1 : ghost
2 : something that haunts or bothers the mind the specter of starvation

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More from Merriam-Webster on specter

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with specter

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for specter

Spanish Central: Translation of specter

Nglish: Translation of specter for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of specter for Arabic Speakers

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