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 Robinhood’s decision to restrict trades for stocks also drew the attention of lawmakers from all ends of the political spectrum. New York Times, "Robinhood, Under the Gun, Raises $2.4 Billion," 1 Feb. 2021 The two presidents, though from opposite ends of the political spectrum, also shared some commonalities. Tom Benning, Dallas News, "‘Divorce is not an option’: U.S., Mexico reset relations in post-Trump era, even as AMLO pokes at Biden," 29 Jan. 2021 The wishy-washy COVID precautions are always maddening on this show, but this spectrum was especially insane to behold. Chris Murphy, Vulture, "The Real Housewives of Atlanta Recap: Allow Me To ReintroDrewce Myself," 26 Jan. 2021 While the Mormon church is deeply ingrained in Salt Lake City, one thing that makes these women stand out is their wide spectrum of religious beliefs: Mormon, Islamic, Jewish and Pentecostal. oregonlive, "Real Housewives of Salt Lake City series premiere | Time, TV channel, how to watch free live stream online (11/11/2020)," 12 Nov. 2020 From deep chocolate to light sand, the entire spectrum of brown is the color of the moment. Rachel Besser, Vogue, "Why We’re Wearing Brown This Season," 1 Oct. 2020 Most government spectrum is underused day-to-day, and the Defense Department has already auctioned some off for private use. Heather Wilson, WSJ, "Pentagon Can Help Beat China in 5G," 28 Sep. 2020 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

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

28 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Spectrum.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spectrum. Accessed 5 Mar. 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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