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[spot-lahyt] /ˈspɒtˌlaɪt/
a strong, focused light thrown upon a particular spot, as on a small area of a stage or in a television studio, for making some object, person, or group especially conspicuous.
a lamp for producing such a light.
a brilliant light with a focused beam, mounted on the side of an automobile and used for illuminating objects not within range of the headlights.
the area of immediate or conspicuous public attention:
Asia is in the spotlight now.
verb (used with object), spotlighted or spotlit, spotlighting.
to direct the beam of a spotlight upon; light with a spotlight.
to make conspicuous; call attention to:
Newspapers spotlighted the story for a week.
to hunt (animals) using a spotlight in order to temporarily blind or confuse them.
verb (used without object), spotlighted or spotlit, spotlighting.
to hunt by using a spotlight.
Origin of spotlight
First recorded in 1910-15; spot + light1
Related forms
spotlighter, noun
unspotlighted, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for spotlight
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • They had a spotlight on one of the cars which they kept moving in wide circles.

  • She was standing in a spotlight, Forrester thought at first.

    Pagan Passions Gordon Randall Garrett
  • The Swami made a determined effort to recapture the spotlight.

    Sense from Thought Divide Mark Irvin Clifton
  • To go down at this point was simply to spotlight his presence for any Throg on his trail.

    Storm Over Warlock Andre Norton
  • At least, it would put Frank Corson, unknown intern, into the spotlight for a while.

    Ten From Infinity Paul W. Fairman
British Dictionary definitions for spotlight


a powerful light focused so as to illuminate a small area, usually mounted so that it can be directed at will
the spotlight, the focus of attention
verb (transitive) -lights, -lighting, -lit, -lighted
to direct a spotlight on
to focus attention on
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 spotlight

1904, from spot (n.) + light (n.). Originally a theatrical equipment; figurative sense is attested from 1916. The verb is first recorded 1923.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for spotlight



To single out prominently; focus on for emphasis: He was trying to spotlight the danger of high deficits (1942+)

Related Terms

in the spotlight

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 spotlight
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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