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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Despite these advances, a number of important public health issues fell out of the spotlight during 2020. Sandee Lamotte, CNN, "Key 2020 health stories you may have missed because of Covid-19," 28 Dec. 2020 Typically, Will, Viv, and their children try to stay out of the spotlight. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "How Will Ferrell Got Out of the Friend Zone and Won Over His Wife Viveca Paulin," 24 Dec. 2020 While Marie Killilea delivered speeches and appeared on television, Karen Killilea preferred to stay out of the spotlight, especially after visitors turned up at the family home unannounced, hoping to see or even touch her. Washington Post, "Karen Killilea, whose story helped change views on cerebral palsy, dies at 80," 24 Dec. 2020 Trump may be a singular symbol of our present, but Chera more likely portends what is to come: ultrawealthy investors who treat their friends and family well and keep out of the spotlight. Reginald Dwayne Betts Kiese Makeba Laymon Carina Del Valle Schorske Dessa Irina Aleksander Sam Dolnick Mark Binelli Maggie Jones Rob Hoerburger Jamie Lauren Keiles Devin Gordon Jazmine Hughes Jenna Wortham Jade Chang Taffy Brodesser-akner Kaitlyn Greenidge Rowan Ricardo Phillips Michael Paterniti Wesley Morris Ismail Muhammad Anthony Giardina, New York Times, "Remembering some of the artists, innovators and thinkers we lost in the past year.," 23 Dec. 2020 Jobs has kept relatively out of the spotlight most of her life, including after her father passed away in 2011 to pancreatic cancer. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Steve Jobs's Daughter Eve Jobs Is a Glossier Model Now," 7 Dec. 2020 Full House actress Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli were amongst the suspects, and the scandal forced their daughters Olivia Jade and Isabella Rose to duck out of the spotlight. Ineye Komonibo,, "Olivia Jade Will Address Operation Varsity Blues On The Only Platform That Makes Sense: The Red Table Talk," 7 Dec. 2020 Is Cyrus zigging and zagging so as to retain command of the spotlight? Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "Miley Cyrus Has Always Been Rock-and-Roll," 3 Dec. 2020 The 2014 trial further thrust the spotlight onto the murky practices of Blackwater, which at the time of the killings held a $1 billion government contract to protect American diplomats. Aqeel Najim, Kareem Khadder And Kara Fox, CNN, "Survivors of Blackwater massacre in Iraq slam Trump's pardons for US guards behind killing," 23 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Calls to action, which denounce the physical destruction of sites, should also spotlight the threat heritage decimation has on people and their cultural livelihoods. Sabrina Papazian, Smithsonian Magazine, "In Times of Conflict, How Can We Support the People Who Keep Culture Alive," 22 Dec. 2020 The ads spotlight diverse people from across the country talking about issues that are important to them. John-john Williams Iv,, "Baltimore area college student, first generation voter featured in Calvin Klein ad and social media campaign," 16 Nov. 2020 The pair conceived of a print magazine that would spotlight the work of Black creatives and people of color working within the worlds of fashion, art, and music, and began putting out feelers to their community and planning their first shoots. Liam Hess, Vogue, "Justsmile Is the New Magazine With Inclusivity as Its Starting Point," 9 Dec. 2020 The concerts also will spotlight violinist Eric Gratz, the symphony’s concertmaster. Deborah Martin,, "San Antonio Symphony announces classical lineup and safety measures for shortened 2020-21 season," 20 Nov. 2020 The Northshore Collaborative will spotlight local nonprofits at its Nov. 11 meeting via Zoom., "A friendsgiving meal for Kelly, musical theater, an outdoor concert and more," 9 Nov. 2020 The display will spotlight specific careers in the science-technology-engineering-math category, starting with how to become an astronaut. Dewayne Bevil,, "WonderWorks new STEM exhibit launches with spotlight on astronaut career path," 3 Nov. 2020 Originally, the channel was created to spotlight signing ceremonies and provide recognition for the school’s athletes during the coronavirus pandemic. Brent Kennedy,, "‘Exhausting, but worth it': Chapelgate athletics successfully navigating return to play this fall," 2 Nov. 2020 Handmade ornaments spotlight both professionals and volunteers, the release said. Danielle Garrand, CBS News, "Melania Trump unveils Christmas decorations for final holiday season in White House," 1 Dec. 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.

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First Known Use of spotlight


1904, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1907, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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Time Traveler for spotlight

Time Traveler

The first known use of spotlight was in 1904

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Statistics for spotlight

Last Updated

13 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Spotlight.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

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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

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Comments on spotlight

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