spectrum

noun
spec·trum | \ ˈspek-trəm \
plural spectra\ˈspek-trə \ 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

(1) : electromagnetic spectrum

(2) : radio spectrum

(3) : the range of frequencies of sound waves

(4) : mass spectrum

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

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

Her decaying manor is submerged in a spectrum of green decor and lush vines. Alexandra Macon, Vogue, "Inside a Greenery-Filled Hawaiian Wedding—Where the Bridesmaids Wore Power Suits," 13 July 2018 Boundaries fizzle accordingly, yielding a vast spectrum of tender gestures. Rachel Vorona Cote, The New Republic, "In GLOW, Who Gets To Be Empowered?," 28 June 2018 This type of lighting also has a broad color spectrum. Kevin Davenport, idahostatesman, "Night shift: Animals are retreating into the darkness out of fear of humans," 28 June 2018 There’s a wide range of treatment options because the drugs need to target a broad spectrum of pathogens that could have caused the illness, the CDC says. Korin Miller, SELF, "Here’s What Could Be Going On if You Have Fishy Vaginal Odor," 26 June 2018 Smith and Bayless had obvious affection for one another, and their politics did not map perfectly onto a standard spectrum of left and right. Vinson Cunningham, The New Yorker, "Stephen A. Smith Won’t Stop Talking," 16 June 2018 However, liposuction is a more powerful treatment and has a broader spectrum of application. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Treatments to sculpt your body: Is Liposuction or CoolSculpting® an option?," 12 June 2018 Worse yet, there are the hypocrites, who hurry to church on Sunday, but exhibit a whole spectrum of sins during the week. Lorraine V. Murray, ajc, "Beware of the church demon on Sunday mornings," 1 June 2018 Protecting yourself with a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and wearing clothing can literally save your skin in the long run. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "What to Do When Your Sunburn Starts Peeling," 1 June 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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Learn More about spectrum

Phrases Related to spectrum

a broad spectrum

Statistics for spectrum

Last Updated

10 Sep 2018

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

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

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

spectrum

noun
spec·trum | \ ˈspek-trəm \
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 \
plural spectra\-trə \ 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

(1) : electromagnetic spectrum

(2) : mass spectrum

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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