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

diapason, 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

By contrast, Republican voters were more heavily congregated on the right side of the spectrum; 67% identified themselves as conservatives, and just 27% as moderate. Gerald F. Seib, WSJ, "Democrats Built a Big Tent; Can They Keep It?," 12 Nov. 2018 At the opposite end of the spectrum, downtown Bellingham’s 98227 had the worst luck, at just 8 percent. Gene Balk / Fyi Guy, The Seattle Times, "These are the luckiest — and unluckiest — places to play the Washington lottery, data show," 31 Oct. 2018 On the opposite end of the spectrum was A Star Is Born, which certainly benefited from strong reviews off the festival circuit earlier this fall and word of mouth following its release. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "Why October’s movies broke so many box office records," 29 Oct. 2018 The effect is controlled by the Chroma app, and has the typical RGB lighting features like breathing and spectrum—alongside the static option. Gordon Mah Ung, PCWorld, "Razer Phone 2 hands-on: The first gaming phone gets better," 10 Oct. 2018 On the more far-fetched end of the spectrum, The Sun reported that Ewan McGregor, who played Obi-Wan Kenobi in the prequel trilogy, would secretly film scenes for Episode IX, though the rumor has yet to be confirmed. Adam Schubak, Popular Mechanics, "Everything We Know So Far About Star Wars Episode IX," 17 Sep. 2018 Dan Verch, his wife and their two teenage daughters experienced both ends of the spectrum. Reema Amin, baltimoresun.com, "Housing indicators reflect strong seller's market in Baltimore region," 13 July 2018 Some people in Madison County fall on the other end of the spectrum — and regret their votes for Trump. Seth Slabaugh, Indianapolis Star, "Sen. Joe Donnelly needs to keep his pro-Trump voters. But can he?," 12 July 2018 The problem is with the more serious and severe side of the spectrum, none of this is funny. Saleah Blancaflor /, NBC News, "In 'The Kiss Quotient', Helen Hoang uses writing to process her Autism diagnosis," 5 July 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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Statistics for spectrum

Last Updated

19 Nov 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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