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 Putting a spotlight on Pulitzer- and Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison, Hugo and Nebula award-winning Octavia Butler, or National Book Award-winning author Ralph Ellison, would be elevating not only black faces, but black stories. Arielle Ray, Quartz, "Retroactive blackface is a bad way of getting more characters of color into the literary canon," 5 Feb. 2020 The case has shined a spotlight on the wide latitude given to prosecutors to pursue convictions without the official scrutiny for potential civil-rights violations that police officers and federal law-enforcement routinely face. Laura Kusisto, WSJ, "Long Shielded From Lawsuits, Prosecutors Face Scrutiny After Fake Subpoenas," 5 Feb. 2020 Fans will finally get to watch the third and final part of the Big Three trilogy with a spotlight on Kate and a closer look at her relationship with Mark. Selena Barrientos, Good Housekeeping, "'This Is Us' Fans Are REELING After the Show’s Big Episode Announcement," 5 Feb. 2020 The spike in violence has turned a spotlight on the decrepit conditions inside the state's correctional facilities. Audrey Mcnamara, CBS News, "Inmate found dead in Mississippi cell, marking 15th death amid state's prison crisis," 3 Feb. 2020 Perhaps the Lakers shine a purple and gold spotlight on Bryant’s No. Mark Medina, USA TODAY, "Los Angeles Lakers’ coaching staff to wear Kobe Bryant shoes during game vs. Portland Trail Blazers," 1 Feb. 2020 Organizers of the event in Poland, the Auschwitz-Birkenau state memorial museum and the World Jewish Congress, have sought to keep the spotlight on survivors. Vanessa Gera, Anchorage Daily News, "Auschwitz survivors warn of rising anti-Semitism on 75th anniversary of liberation," 27 Jan. 2020 Chris O’Donnell isn’t the only member of his family to steal the spotlight on NCIS: Los Angeles. Megan Stein, Country Living, "NCIS: LA's Chris O'Donnell Quietly Had His Kids on the Show and We Had No Idea," 26 Jan. 2020 This man of modest mien keeps the spotlight on the person being questioned. Robert D. Mcfadden, New York Times, "Jim Lehrer, Longtime PBS News Anchor, Is Dead at 85," 23 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Sweedish audio tech company Teenage Engineering designed the Frekvens collection for IKEA, which includes portable speakers and LED spotlights that react to sound. Isabel Garcia, House Beautiful, "You Can Personalize Your IKEA Speakers by 3D Printing These Add-ons," 6 Feb. 2020 The battle over Aretha Franklin’s estate returned to court Tuesday, once again spotlighting the deepening cracks that have emerged among family members and their battalions of attorneys. Brian Mccollum, Detroit Free Press, "Aretha Franklin family drama plays out in Pontiac courtroom in latest estate hearing," 4 Feb. 2020 Instead of boasting about the many masterworks by canonical artists in the collection, the curators have spotlighted photographs that most of us have never seen. Richard B. Woodward, WSJ, "‘Unseen: 35 Years of Collecting Photographs’ Review: A Different Perspective," 4 Feb. 2020 The federal charge against Xiojiang Li, alleging theft of grant funds, spotlights a new federal effort to combat Chinese economic espionage on university campuses. Ken Dilanian, NBC News, "Emory professor hit with criminal charge, linked to Chinese government program," 4 Feb. 2020 Democrats were focused on Mr. Trump’s handshake snub, which Ms. Pelosi later spotlighted on Twitter, along with a photograph of the president turning his back. New York Times, "Trump and Pelosi Exchange Snubs at the State of the Union Address," 3 Feb. 2020 Guests can dine or dance as LED spotlights swirl through the room, where framed photographs of Vogue Magazine covers, supermodels and old Hollywood stars decorate the walls. Priscilla Totiyapungprasert, azcentral, "Tacos and sandwiches: 32 restaurants and bars that opened in December 2019 in metro Phoenix," 2 Jan. 2020 The case helped spotlight the way the state’s juvenile justice system punished — or did not punish — teens repeatedly accused of stealing cars from ritzy suburban neighborhoods. Zach Murdock,, "Hartford teen, serial car thief caught in stolen car for third time in 5 months, police say," 4 Dec. 2019 One of the standout episodes of This Is Us from season 3 spotlighted Beth’s backstory — and gave us our first peek at her mother. Dan Snierson,, "Phylicia Rashad returns to This Is Us in the dance-studio debacle you never saw coming," 15 Oct. 2019

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

10 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Spotlight.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Feb. 2020.

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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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