spec·​ta·​cle | \ ˈspek-ti-kəl How to pronounce spectacle (audio) also -ˌti-kəl \

Definition of spectacle

1a : something exhibited to view as unusual, notable, or entertaining especially : an eye-catching or dramatic public display
b : an object of curiosity or contempt made a spectacle of herself
2 spectacles\ ˈspek-​ti-​kəlz How to pronounce spectacle (audio) also  -​ˌti-​kəlz \ plural : a device used to correct defects of vision : glasses
3 : something (such as natural markings on an animal) suggesting a pair of glasses

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Examples of spectacle in a Sentence

He peered through his spectacles. the multimedia spectacles that have become established parts of the opening and closing ceremonies for the Olympic Games
Recent Examples on the Web Early last year we were treated to the delightful spectacle of Montana’s Glacier National Park removing signs that said its glaciers would be gone by 2020. Gary Saul Morson, WSJ, 11 Oct. 2021 De Blasio, who was already being treated to the spectacle of the ongoing public humiliation of his longtime nemesis in Albany, was now flush with cash to finally make good on his pledge to unify the two New Yorks. New York Times, 8 June 2021 The Indy 500 will draw another public figure to its spectacle Sunday: former Vice President Mike Pence. Sarah Nelson, The Indianapolis Star, 28 May 2021 But behold the residue: Warriors vs. Lakers at Staples Center Wednesday night, with a national television audience riveted to the spectacle. San Francisco Chronicle, 16 May 2021 Very little is known about the plot, which in many ways seems secondary to the spectacle. NBC News, 14 May 2021 Adding to the dysfunctional spectacle, the government is facing a deadline to fund its operations. Frida Ghitis, CNN, 24 Sep. 2021 Amid breathless press coverage of the event, journalists struggled to find the right words—and not just because the spectacle of spaceflight often defies description. Scientific American, 23 Sep. 2021 Shang-Chi is filled with all manner of action scenes, from shorter moments and fast shots to extended spectacle. Mark Hughes, Forbes, 8 Sep. 2021

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for spectacle

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin spectaculum, from spectare to watch, frequentative of specere to look, look at — more at spy

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Time Traveler for spectacle

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The first known use of spectacle was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near spectacle



spectacle clew

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Last Updated

17 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Spectacle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spectacle. Accessed 24 Oct. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of spectacle

: a very impressive show
: something that attracts attention because it is very unusual or very shocking
: a pair of lenses set into a frame and worn over the eyes : glasses


spec·​ta·​cle | \ ˈspek-ti-kəl How to pronounce spectacle (audio) \

Kids Definition of spectacle

1 : an unusual or impressive public display (as a big parade)
2 spectacles plural : glass sense 3
3 : an object of curiosity or contempt Don't make a spectacle of yourself!

More from Merriam-Webster on spectacle

Nglish: Translation of spectacle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of spectacle for Arabic Speakers


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