spectrum

noun
spec·​trum | \ ˈspek-trəm How to pronounce spectrum (audio) \
plural spectra\ ˈspek-​trə How to pronounce spectra (audio) \ or spectrums

Definition of spectrum

1a : a continuum of color formed when a beam of white light is dispersed (as by passage through a prism) so that its component wavelengths are arranged in order
b : any of various continua that resemble a color spectrum in consisting of an ordered arrangement by a particular characteristic (such as frequency or energy): such as
(3) : the range of frequencies of sound waves
c : the representation (such as a plot) of a spectrum
2a : a continuous sequence or range a wide spectrum of interests opposite ends of the political spectrum
b : kinds of organisms associated with a particular situation (such as an environment)
c : a range of effectiveness against pathogenic organisms an antibiotic with a broad spectrum
on the spectrum
: exhibiting traits associated with autism spectrum disorder … quiet areas and sensory bags with headphones … and other ways to help kids who are on the spectrum cope with unfamiliar, noisy surroundings.— Rachel Molenda … Stephanie Adams, cofounder of the Autism and Asperger's Society, said: "We started the society because we wanted to make a place where people on the spectrum can spend their time and not feel isolated. …"— Kelsey Maxwell

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Synonyms for spectrum

Synonyms

diapason, gamut, range, scale, spread, stretch

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Examples of spectrum in a Sentence

beautiful scarves in all the colors of the spectrum the complete spectrum of opinions on this hotly debated subject

Recent Examples on the Web

One of the most interesting aspects of Game of Thrones is that almost all of its characters are operating on a sliding moral spectrum. Ineye Komonibo, Marie Claire, "Daenerys Targaryen Should Not Be Queen of Westeros," 19 Apr. 2019 Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has proposed making wireless spectrum assets available to Ligado Networks LLC, a critical part of the formerly bankrupt venture’s business plans. Andrew Scurria, WSJ, "Ligado Wins FCC Chairman’s Backing on Needed Spectrum," 18 Apr. 2019 Each camera is also tuned to the longwave infrared spectrum, also known as thermal imaging or passive night vision, allowing crew members to see at night and in poor weather, and through dust, fog, and smoke. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "All-Seeing HD Cameras Could Solve Tanks' Biggest Weakness," 17 Apr. 2019 Sometimes the science is real, like a diagram of a DNA molecule or the spectrum for a red giant star that appears on the ship's graphical display in an upcoming episode in season 2. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "The Orville blends science fiction and science fact into a winning mix," 29 Dec. 2018 Americans across the worldview spectrum were petrified. Ezra Klein, Vox, "A new theory for why Republicans and Democrats see the world differently," 18 Dec. 2018 On the other end of the spectrum with 581 rooms, there's the Loews Philadelphia Hotel in Center City. Juliet Izon, Redbook, "And the Very Best City for a Girls' Getaway Is...," 7 Aug. 2018 So all of those variations of the spectrum —they're all wrong. Katie Halper, Teen Vogue, "Lucy Flores: Biden's Unwanted Touching Should be Part of #MeToo Conversations," 6 Apr. 2019 And for now, while the chip will work with 5G, the spec is not native to the platform: Though the Qualcomm X50 modem will perform 5G millimeter wave and operate in the sub-6GHz spectrum bands, the X50 isn’t integrated into the Snapdragon 855. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Meet Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855: AI boosts, a smarter camera, mobile gaming—and bye-bye, JPEG," 5 Dec. 2018

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

1672, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for spectrum

New Latin, from Latin, appearance — more at specter

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Statistics for spectrum

Last Updated

23 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for spectrum

The first known use of spectrum was in 1672

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More Definitions for spectrum

spectrum

noun

English Language Learners Definition of spectrum

: the group of colors that a ray of light can be separated into including red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet : the colors that can be seen in a rainbow
technical : an entire range of light waves, radio waves, etc.
: a complete range of different opinions, people, etc.

spectrum

noun
spec·​trum | \ ˈspek-trəm How to pronounce spectrum (audio) \
plural spectra\ -​trə \ or spectrums

Kids Definition of spectrum

: the group of different colors including red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet seen when light passes through a prism and falls on a surface or when sunlight is affected by drops of water (as in a rainbow)

spectrum

noun
spec·​trum | \ ˈspek-trəm How to pronounce spectrum (audio) \
plural spectra\ -​trə How to pronounce spectra (audio) \ or spectrums

Medical Definition of spectrum

1a : a continuum of color formed when a beam of white light is dispersed (as by passage through a prism) so that its component wavelengths are arranged in order
b : any of various continua that resemble a spectrum in consisting of an ordered arrangement by a particular characteristic (as frequency or energy): as
c : the representation (as a plot) of a spectrum
2 : a continuous sequence or range specifically : a range of effectiveness against pathogenic organisms — see broad-spectrum, narrow-spectrum

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Comments on spectrum

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