spectrum

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

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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 notable thing about this approach is that, prior to the Blue Dogs advocating for it, there was already support for something similar on the left end of the spectrum. Alex Pareene, The New Republic, "The Blue Dog Democrats Have a Point," 6 Feb. 2021 On the other end of the spectrum, SB 9 would create an Indiana passenger rail commission for developing rail projects around the state and region. Sarah Bowman, The Indianapolis Star, "More than 75 bills are related to the environment this session. Here are ones we’re following.," 2 Feb. 2021 On the other side of the spectrum, Tabby launched last summer and caters to cat people. Linda Kessler, Dallas News, "Looking for love? Technology can help," 2 Feb. 2021 After my parents died, my aunts shifted further toward the maternal-authority end of the spectrum. New York Times, "My Father Died Young. His Sisters Kept Me From Losing Him Entirely.," 2 Feb. 2021 On one end of the spectrum, in practice, are many top-down, government initiatives planting fast-growing species at a large scale. Lauren E. Oakes, Scientific American, "The Real Cost of Planting Trees," 29 Jan. 2021 On the other end of the spectrum, if nobody falls ill among those who have been vaccinated, the efficacy is 100 percent. Jonathan Saltzman, BostonGlobe.com, "We may soon have a third vaccine. Here’s what you need to know about the Johnson & Johnson shot," 29 Jan. 2021 At the higher end of the spectrum are lightweight ice hockey sticks that may cost close to $300. Allen Foster, chicagotribune.com, "The best ice hockey stick," 22 Jan. 2021 At the other end of the spectrum are large urban farms. Los Angeles Times, "No dirt? No farm? No problem. The potential for soil-less agriculture is huge," 21 Jan. 2021

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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Time Traveler for spectrum

Time Traveler

The first known use of spectrum was in 1672

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Statistics for spectrum

Last Updated

16 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Spectrum.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spectrum. Accessed 24 Feb. 2021.

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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 spectrum (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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