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 Unusual staffing decisions, needless fights, the specter of corruption, the promise of gridlock — and inauguration is still over a month away. Matthew Continetti, National Review, "Obama III," 12 Dec. 2020 For the millions of Californians who cook and heat with gas, however, that guidance presents an impossible choice—as does the specter of Covid-19, which has more of us worried about indoor ventilation. Jonathan Mingle, Quartz, "Why experts are sounding the alarm about the hidden dangers of gas stoves," 4 Dec. 2020 The prospect of additional U.S. stimulus after the election could dent the dollar and raise the specter of inflation, giving a lift to gold’s status as a store of value. Kevin Miller And Melinda Grenier, oregonlive, "Here are the business sectors that will thrive, dive under Biden administration," 15 Nov. 2020 Some argue that the election, no matter how contentious, will still take a back seat to the pandemic, as the trajectory of Covid-19 continues to alarm public health experts and raise the specter of an overwhelmed health care system. NBC News, "A succession crisis or a 'blue wave?' Wall Street faces the unknown," 2 Nov. 2020 Hospital admissions are also running ahead of the worst-case scenario, the panel said, raising the specter that within weeks, the National Health Service will not be able to cope with the influx of patients. Mark Landler, New York Times, "England to Shut Pubs, Restaurants and Most Shops as Virus Surges," 31 Oct. 2020 Increasing rates of infection in much of the U.S. have raised the specter of further disruptions in food industries. Tatiana Freitas, Bloomberg.com, "JBS Sends Thousands of U.S. Meat Workers Home During Covid Surge," 4 Dec. 2020 After ​Trump ordered the killing of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in January, Tehran raised the specter of a cataclysmic retaliation. Tamara Qiblawi, CNN, "Key questions about the assassination of Iran's top nuclear scientist," 30 Nov. 2020 The specter of success that broke him had also fortified him, committed him to his unsustainable path. Brendan Fitzgerald, Longreads, "“I miss my body when it was ferocious” The Transfiguration of Paul Curreri," 10 Aug. 2020

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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Time Traveler for specter

Time Traveler

The first known use of specter was in 1605

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Statistics for specter

Last Updated

9 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Specter.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/specter. Accessed 16 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for specter


How to pronounce specter (audio)

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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Comments on specter

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