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[spot] /spɒt/
a rounded mark or stain made by foreign matter, as mud, blood, paint, ink, etc.; a blot or speck.
something that mars one's character or reputation; blemish; flaw.
a small blemish, mole, or lesion on the skin or other surface.
a small, circumscribed mark caused by disease, allergic reaction, decay, etc.
a comparatively small, usually roundish, part of a surface differing from the rest in color, texture, character, etc.:
a bald spot.
a place or locality:
A monument marks the spot where Washington slept.
Usually, spots. places of entertainment or sightseeing interest:
We went to a few spots to dance and see the floor shows.
a specific position in a sequence or hierarchy:
The choral group has the second spot on the program, right after the dancers. He moved up from second spot to become president of the firm.
  1. one of various traditional, geometric drawings of a club, diamond, heart, or spade on a playing card for indicating suit and value.
  2. any playing card from a two through a ten:
    He drew a jack, a queen, and a three spot.
a pip, as on dice or dominoes.
Slang. a piece of paper money, almost always indicated as a five- or ten-dollar bill:
Can you loan me a five spot until payday?
Also called spot illustration. a small drawing, usually black and white, appearing within or accompanying a text.
Chiefly British Informal.
  1. a small quantity of anything.
  2. a drink:
    a spot of tea.
a small croaker, Leiostomus xanthurus, of the eastern coast of the U.S., used as a food fish.
spots, Informal. commodities, as grain, wool, and soybeans, sold for immediate delivery.
Informal. spotlight (def 1).
verb (used with object), spotted, spotting.
to stain or mark with spots:
The grease spotted my dress.
to remove a spot or spots from (clothing), especially before dry cleaning.
to sully; blemish.
to mark or diversify with spots or dots, as of color:
We spotted the wall with blue paint.
to detect or recognize; locate or identify by seeing:
to spot a hiding child.
to place or position on a particular place:
to spot a billiard ball.
to stop (a railroad car) at the exact place required.
to scatter in various places:
to spot chairs here and there in the room.
Informal. spotlight (def 5).
  1. to determine (a location) precisely on either the ground or a map.
  2. to observe (the results of gunfire at or near a target) for the purpose of correcting aim.
Photography. to remove spots from (a negative or print) by covering with opaque color.
Sports. to give or grant a certain margin or advantage to (an opponent):
He spotted the tyro 12 points a game. The champion won, although spotting the challenger twenty pounds.
(in gymnastics) to watch or assist (a performer) in order to prevent injury.
Slang. to lend:
Can you spot me twenty for tonight's game?
verb (used without object), spotted, spotting.
to make a spot; cause a stain:
Ink spots badly.
to become spotted, as some fabrics when spattered with water.
Military. to serve or act as a spotter.
Radio, Television.
  1. pertaining to the point of origin of a local broadcast.
  2. broadcast between announced programs.
made, paid, delivered, etc., at once:
a spot sale; spot goods.
hit the high spots, Informal. to deal with or include only the major points of interest:
With but a limited amount of vacation time, he concentrated on hitting the high spots of Europe.
hit the spot, Informal. to satisfy a want or need, as to quench thirst:
Iced tea hits the spot during the hot summer months.
in a (bad) spot, in an uncomfortable or dangerous predicament:
The tourists found themselves in a bad spot after they lost their money in Las Vegas.
knock spots off, British Slang. to outdo easily; beat.
on the spot,
  1. without delay; at once; instantly.
  2. at the very place in question.
  3. in a difficult or embarrassing position.
  4. in a position of being expected to act or to respond in some way.
Origin of spot
1150-1200; (noun) Middle English spotte; cognate with Middle Dutch, Low German spot speck, Old Norse spotti bit; (v.) late Middle English spotten to stain, mark, derivative of the noun
Related forms
spotlike, adjective
spottable, adjective
nonspottable, adjective
respot, verb, respotted, respotting.
unspottable, adjective
2. taint, stigma. 6. locale, site, situation. 21. stain, taint, stigmatize, soil, tarnish. 22. speckle. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for spot
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • And what monument would you have reared to mark the spot where Anaxagoras sleeps?

    Philothea Lydia Maria Child
  • At sunset he would have stopped for the day, camping on the spot.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • Reached camp at the spot arranged an hour after dark, and found all well.

  • At this spot there was water, but very little feed for the horses.

  • When it is cold, the dog finds a spot in front of the stove.

    Ancient Man Hendrik Willem van Loon
British Dictionary definitions for spot


a small mark on a surface, such as a circular patch or stain, differing in colour or texture from its surroundings
a geographical area that is restricted in extent: a beauty spot
a location: this is the exact spot on which he died
a blemish of the skin, esp a pimple or one occurring through some disease
a blemish on the character of a person; moral flaw
(informal) a place of entertainment: we hit all the night spots
(informal, mainly Brit) a small quantity or amount: a spot of lunch
(informal) an awkward situation: that puts me in a bit of a spot
a short period between regular television or radio programmes that is used for advertising
a position or length of time in a show assigned to a specific performer
short for spotlight
(in billiards)
  1. Also called spot ball. the white ball that is distinguished from the plain by a mark or spot
  2. the player using this ball
(billiards, snooker) one of several small black dots on a table that mark where a ball is to be placed
  1. denoting or relating to goods, currencies, or securities available for immediate delivery and payment: spot goods See also spot market, spot price
  2. involving immediate cash payment: spot sales
(used mainly in negative constructions) change one's spots, to reform one's character
high spot, an outstanding event: the high spot of the holiday was the visit to the winery
knock spots off, to outstrip or outdo with ease
on the spot
  1. immediately
  2. at the place in question
  3. in the best possible position to deal with a situation
  4. in an awkward predicament
  5. without moving from the place of one's location, etc
  6. (as modifier): our on-the-spot reporter
soft spot, a special sympathetic affection or weakness for a person or thing
tight spot, a serious, difficult, or dangerous situation
weak spot
  1. some aspect of a character or situation that is susceptible to criticism
  2. a flaw in a person's knowledge: classics is my weak spot
verb spots, spotting, spotted
(transitive) to observe or perceive suddenly, esp under difficult circumstances; discern
to put stains or spots upon (something)
(intransitive) (of some fabrics) to be susceptible to spotting by or as if by water: silk spots easily
(transitive) to place here and there: they spotted observers along the border
to look out for and note (trains, talent, etc)
(intransitive) to rain slightly; spit
(transitive) (billiards) to place (a ball) on one of the spots
(military) to adjust fire in order to correct deviations from (the target) by observation
(transitive) (US, informal) to yield (an advantage or concession) to (one's opponent): to spot someone a piece in chess
Derived Forms
spottable, adjective
Word Origin
C12 (in the sense: moral blemish): of German origin; compare Middle Dutch spotte, Old Norse spotti
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for spot

c.1200, "moral stain," probably from Old English splott "a spot, blot, patch (of land)" infl. by Middle Dutch spotte "spot, speck." Other cognates are East Frisian spot "speck," North Frisian spot "speck, piece of ground," Old Norse spotti "small piece." It is likely that some of these are borrowed, but the exact evolution now is impossible to trace.

Meaning "speck, stain" is from mid-14c. The sense of "particular place" is from c.1300. Meaning "short interval in a broadcast for an advertisement or announcement" is from 1923. Proceeded by a number (e.g. five-spot) it originally was a term for "prison sentence" of that many years (1901, American English slang). To put (someone) on the spot "place in a difficult situation" is from 1928. Colloquial phrase to hit the spot "satisfy, be what is required" is from 1868. Spot check first attested 1933. Spot on "completely, accurately" is attested from 1920.


early 15c., "to stain, sully, tarnish" from spot (n.). Sense of "to stain with spots" is attested from mid-15c. Meaning "to see and recognize," is from 1718, originally colloquial and applied to a criminal or suspected person; the general sense is from 1860. Related: Spotted; spotting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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spot in Medicine

spot (spŏt)

  1. A mark on a surface differing sharply in color from its surroundings.

  2. A stain or blot.

v. spot·ted, spot·ting, spots
To lose a slight amount of blood through the vagina.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Slang definitions & phrases for spot



  1. A short commercial or paid political announcement on radio or television: How do you like the spots, Senator? (1937+)
  2. A nightclub, restaurant, or other such venue of pleasure: They were often seen in a fashionable spot uptown (1940s+)


  1. To give odds or a handicap; to give an advantage to: They spotted Pittsburgh five runs before getting down to serious business (1961+ Sports & gambling)
  2. To recognize or identify: I spotted her as a phony long ago (1848+)
  3. To lend someone something: spotted her ten bucks

Related Terms

deuce spot, five-spot, hit the spot, hot spot, johnny-on-the-spot, nightspot, on the spot, put someone on the spot, sweet spot, two-spot, x marks the spot

[found by 1718 in the second verb sense as ''identify as a wrongdoer'']

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with spot
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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