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

Keep scrolling for more

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 At one end of the spectrum are Lincoln, with 40 percent protected land, Medfield, with 33 percent, and Wayland, 32 percent. John Laidler, BostonGlobe.com, "Report finds abundant strengths, pressing challenges in MetroWest," 22 Jan. 2020 On the encouraging end of the spectrum was Allan Cruz, who led the team in goals (seven) despite only appearing in 22 matches. Pat Brennan, Cincinnati.com, "Breaking down FC Cincinnati's roster ahead of the 2020 MLS season," 22 Jan. 2020 The mid-winter snowcap scatters the sun’s warming rays in the infrared portion of the spectrum. Outdoor Life, "3 Killer Ice Fishing Tactics For Mid-Winter Pike, Walleyes, and Panfish," 17 Jan. 2020 What about a loss on the other end of the spectrum? Chris Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter, "Power Publicists Jennifer Allen and Melissa Kates on Lessons Learned and How to Spin a Scandal in 2020," 9 Jan. 2020 The inherent conundrum of the Y2K debate is that those on both ends of the spectrum — from naysayers to doomsayers — can claim that the outcome proved their predictions correct. Francine Uenuma, Time, "20 Years Later, the Y2K Bug Seems Like a Joke—Because Those Behind the Scenes Took It Seriously," 30 Dec. 2019 On the other side of the spectrum, the contrast will be high with deep blacks. Jacob Krol, CNN Underscored, "Save on this 55-inch AI ThinQ 4K TV from LG," 11 Dec. 2019 The same concern exists on the other end of the spectrum. oregonlive, "Department of Forestry’s new management plan is so vague it’s meaningless, critics say," 11 Dec. 2019 On the opposite end of the spectrum are the one-note, sweet-as-sugar commercial options. Kate Krader, chicagotribune.com, "The holiday foods you love to hate can actually be delicious," 9 Dec. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about spectrum

Time Traveler for spectrum

Time Traveler

The first known use of spectrum was in 1672

See more words from the same year

Statistics for spectrum

Last Updated

29 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Spectrum.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spectrum. Accessed 29 January 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on spectrum

What made you want to look up spectrum? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to assert without proof or before proving

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

January 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • image1642096650
  • Which is a synonym of bonhomie?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!