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

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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

Students and teachers work in teams, developing the wide spectrum of skills needed when producing a piece of musical theater, including critical thinking, problem solving, ensemble building, communication, self-confidence and interpersonal skills. Austen Erblat, sun-sentinel.com, "Four Palm Beach County elementary schools chosen for Disney musical theater program," 22 Aug. 2019 The vast majority of the country’s 80 million people identify as Sunni Muslim, but follow a wide spectrum of daily practice. Umar Farooq, Los Angeles Times, "Turkey extends censorship rules to streaming services. Critics say political dissent is the real target," 21 Aug. 2019 His website publishes a wide spectrum of politically diverse views. John Kass, chicagotribune.com, "Column: Robert Mueller crushed their dreams, so Democrats pivot to race," 21 Aug. 2019 Experts point to a sea change in the American job experience that began decades ago but has grown more visible across a wider spectrum of jobs. Michelle R. Smith, BostonGlobe.com, "Why many employees feel devalued even in booming job market," 12 Aug. 2019 That their sheer scale, multiplied by the wide spectrum of beliefs held by their users, makes moderation of any kind so Sisyphean and so subjective a task that the only possible solution is to allow for just about any idea, or any customer. Ellen Cushing, The Atlantic, "Wayfair and the New Politics of Corporate Responsibility," 26 June 2019 Only a few brands are able to straddle such a wide price spectrum. Sangeeta Tanwar, Quartz India, "Mondelez India goes low on sugar with new Cadbury Dairy Milk," 11 June 2019 Every beat is a generically bland take on trap, but with enough bass to move a crowd, and competent enough to fit in on a wide spectrum of Spotify rap and pop playlists. Piet Levy, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Rapper Nav's 'Bad Habits' is a hit album. But Nav's Milwaukee show was just bad.," 8 June 2019 The world would have forgiven them a wide spectrum of reactions to that double blow. ... Tristan Gooley, WSJ, "Summer Books 2019: Walking," 24 May 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.

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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

27 Aug 2019

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
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

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Comments on spectrum

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