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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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 On the other end of the spectrum, Timothée Chalamet continues to assert himself as our inevitable millennial heartthrob as romantic neighbor boy Laurie, burning with swoon-worthy unrequited love for Jo. Barbara Vandenburgh, azcentral, "‘Little Women’: What director Greta Gerwig gets exactly right in this retelling," 25 Dec. 2019 Initially focused on farmhouses and IPAs, the pair, along with third brewer Luc Goovaerts, 27, have evolved into generalists cranking out styles across the spectrum. oregonlive, "2019 Portland Brewery of the Year: Ruse Brewing is this beer city’s rising star," 18 Dec. 2019 At the other end of the spectrum is the University of South Florida, where until Dec. 1 head football coach Charlie Strong’s stance on violence against women was heralded as one of the toughest. Kenny Jacoby, USA Today, "Jay Hopson Blake Anderson Rod Reed Charlie Strong Seth Littrell Eric Dooley Rocky Long Craig Schurig Wes Kittley Nick Bobeck Shawn Lutz Terry Bowden Sean Kugler Roman Banks Buzz Peterson Jon Harris Mike Sanford Sr. Clarence McKinney Chuck Priore Terry Sims Matt Viator Mel Tucker Kirby Cannon Larry Kennan Hannah Weiss John Grass Doc Holliday Doug Martin Mitch Stewart Tim Beck Kelvin Sampson Tim Flo," 12 Dec. 2019 They are talented across the spectrum of events, led by Abdur Henley and JR Harrison, who finished first and second, respectively, at the region meet last season. Ryan Morse, baltimoresun.com, "2019-20 Baltimore-area high school boys indoor track preseason Top 15 poll," 8 Dec. 2019 The longer reach of the 600 MHz airwaves offers lower transmission data capacity than higher spectrum bands known as millimeter wave. Aaron Pressman, Fortune, "T-Mobile Turns On 5G: What You Need to Know," 2 Dec. 2019 The next step will be fitting the suits to actual humans—both women and men—across the spectrum of body types. Jessica Puckett, Condé Nast Traveler, "This Woman Is Helping Female Astronauts Get to the Moon By Designing Better Spacesuits," 20 Sep. 2019 Designers across the spectrum are injecting authentic personality into the proceedings by rethinking what a fashion show can and should be. Nicole Phelps, Vogue, "With Immersive Experiences Replacing Traditional Runways, These Were New York Fashion Week’s Most Exciting Shows," 13 Sep. 2019 From trendy sweatsuits to bucket hats to watches, the streetwear spectrum is deep – and everybody wants a piece. Nandi Howard, Essence, "These Are The Hottest Streetwear Pieces To Buy Right Now," 30 Aug. 2019

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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Learn More about spectrum

Time Traveler for spectrum

Time Traveler

The first known use of spectrum was in 1672

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Statistics for spectrum

Last Updated

15 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Spectrum.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spectrum. Accessed 26 January 2020.

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More Definitions for spectrum

spectrum

noun
How to pronounce spectrum (audio)

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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