spot·​light | \ ˈspät-ˌlīt How to pronounce spotlight (audio) \

Definition of spotlight

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a projected spot of light used to illuminate brilliantly a person, object, or group on a stage
b : public notice or attention held the political spotlight
2a : a light designed to direct a narrow intense beam of light on a small area
b : something that illuminates brilliantly


spotlighted or spotlit; spotlighting

Definition of spotlight (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to illuminate with a spotlight
2 : to direct attention to : highlight

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of spotlight in a Sentence

Noun They aimed the spotlight at the center of the stage. A spotlight moved across the stage. The actor stood in the spotlight. a baseball star who hates the spotlight They're always in the spotlight. The news article turned the spotlight on the city's financial problems. Verb She was spotlighted as she sang her solo. The news spotlighted the city's financial problems.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Many fashion labels lead by creators of color have been pushed to the spotlight within the last few months due to the deaths of George Floyd, Breanna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. Nandi Howard, Essence, "Celebrity Stylist Bryon Javar On The Importance Of Dressing His Clients In Black Designers," 8 July 2020 Now, as November's 2020 general election nears, China's in the spotlight thanks to the novel coronavirus. Naomi Lim, Washington Examiner, "Biden woos Asian American voters after Trump ‘kung flu’ quips," 1 July 2020 Woodrow Wilson High School is the home of Brown and quarterback Davey O’Brien, two men who put the school in the spotlight as Heisman Trophy winners. Calvin Watkins, Dallas News, "‘DISD needs to do what’s right’: Woodrow Wilson alum, Pro Football Hall of Famer Tim Brown supports changing school’s name," 1 July 2020 The videos helped keep many businesses in the spotlight. Evan Casey, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "After months of waiting because of the coronavirus, these Wauwatosa businesses are excited to open soon," 29 June 2020 In a region that has long been in the spotlight for tensions over policing and racial inequality, the interaction seemed to capture the divisions rippling throughout the nation in 2020. Teo Armus, Washington Post, "St. Louis couple points guns at peaceful crowd of protesters calling for mayor to resign," 29 June 2020 Kentucky was in the spotlight due to a reduction of polling places; a judge ruled against opening additional sites in the state’s most populous counties. Rachel Glickhouse, ProPublica, "Electionland 2020: Kentucky and New York Vote, Trump on Mail Voting, COVID Impacts and more," 26 June 2020 With visits from both the president and vice president this week, the political battleground state of Wisconsin is back in the spotlight, report CBS News campaign reporters Musadiq Bidar, Adam Brewster and Nicole Sganga. Caitlin Conant, CBS News, "2020 Daily Trail Markers: Candidates for prosecutor explore "defund the police"," 25 June 2020 Just-in-time production, which became popular in the second half of the 20th century, and was characterized by strict inventory management, might have had its time in the spotlight, Coyler said. Anneken Tappe, CNN, "Companies are reassessing their supply chains. But that might not add more American jobs," 23 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The series will spotlight participants in the company’s new Apprentice Artists Program. Deborah Martin,, "Opera San Antonio’s 2020-21 season holds one full live production, virtual programming," 8 July 2020 The first phase includes a storytelling series to spotlight local businesses. Alexandria Burris, The Indianapolis Star, "'It's overdue': Campaign aims to boost the profile of Indy's Black-owned businesses," 7 July 2020 Former Vice President Joe Biden heads to Pennsylvania on Thursday to spotlight a new health care push to protect the Affordable Care Act. Fox News, "Biden taking aim at Trump over health care during battleground state stop," 25 June 2020 During its first-ever online-only reveal, Ford decided to spotlight its engineering, technology and marketing teams who brought the latest F-150 to life. Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press, "Ford just revealed 2021 F-150: Why this new model is different," 26 June 2020 The former vice president will also spotlight Trump’s theory that fewer tests will mean fewer cases of the coronavirus, which puts the president at odds with public health experts, who are pushing for an increase in testing to contain the virus. Fox News, "Biden taking aim at Trump over health care during battleground state stop," 25 June 2020 The idea, said Nareg Sagherian, a Bio International managing director, is to spotlight promising young companies that might otherwise be overlooked at a large international conference. Amanda Morris, azcentral, "3 Arizona startups compete in international bioscience competition," 11 June 2020 And there won’t be any shortage of incidents to spotlight. Geoff Edgers, Washington Post, "Sick of the ‘blue code of silence,’ director Ava DuVernay starts an initiative to spotlight police brutality," 8 June 2020 For the marathon, stars Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Connor will contribute new clips, including ones that spotlight fans of the show. Gary Dinges, USA TODAY, "Watch these LGBTQ-friendly TV shows, films to celebrate Pride Month," 1 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'spotlight.' 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 spotlight


1904, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1907, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about spotlight

Time Traveler for spotlight

Time Traveler

The first known use of spotlight was in 1904

See more words from the same year

Statistics for spotlight

Last Updated

11 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Spotlight.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Jul. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for spotlight


How to pronounce spotlight (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of spotlight

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a device that directs a narrow, bright beam of light on a small area
: the area of light created by a spotlight
: public attention or notice



English Language Learners Definition of spotlight (Entry 2 of 2)

: to shine a spotlight on (someone or something)
: to give special attention to (something)


spot·​light | \ ˈspät-ˌlīt How to pronounce spotlight (audio) \

Kids Definition of spotlight

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a spot of light used to show up a particular area, person, or thing (as on a stage)
2 : public notice She's a celebrity but doesn't like the spotlight.
3 : a lamp used to direct a narrow strong beam of light on a small area


spotlighted or spotlit\ ˈspät-​ˌlit \; spotlighting

Kids Definition of spotlight (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to light up with or as if with a spotlight
2 : to bring to public attention

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on spotlight

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


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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