spectrum

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noun spec·trum \ˈspek-trəm\

Definition of spectrum

plural

spectra

play \ˈspek-trə\ or

spectrums

  1. 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 orderb :  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 (1) :  electromagnetic spectrum (2) :  radio spectrum (3) :  the range of frequencies of sound waves (4) :  mass spectrumc :  the representation (such as a plot) of a spectrum

  2. 2a :  a continuous sequence or range a wide spectrum of interests opposite ends of the political spectrumb :  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

Examples of spectrum in a Sentence

  1. beautiful scarves in all the colors of the spectrum

  2. the complete spectrum of opinions on this hotly debated subject

Recent Examples of spectrum from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of spectrum

New Latin, from Latin, appearance — more at specter



SPECTRUM Defined for English Language Learners

spectrum

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noun

Definition of spectrum for English Language Learners

  • : 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

  • : an entire range of light waves, radio waves, etc.

  • : a complete range of different opinions, people, etc.


SPECTRUM Defined for Kids

spectrum

play
noun spec·trum \ˈspek-trəm\

Definition of spectrum for Students

plural

spectra

\-trə\ or

spectrums

  1. :  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)


Medical Dictionary

spectrum

play
noun spec·trum \ˈspek-trəm\

Medical Definition of spectrum

plural

spectra

\-trə\play or

spectrums

  1. 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 orderb:  any of various continua that resemble a spectrum in consisting of an ordered arrangement by a particular characteristic (as frequency or energy): as (1):  electromagnetic spectrum (2):  mass spectrumc:  the representation (as a plot) of a spectrum

  2. 2:  a continuous sequence or range; specifically :  a range of effectiveness against pathogenic organisms—see broad-spectrum, narrow spectrum



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