View synonyms for spectacle


[ spek-tuh-kuhl ]


  1. anything presented to the sight or view, especially something of a striking or impressive kind:

    The stars make a fine spectacle tonight.

    Synonyms: show, sight, wonder, marvel

  2. a public show or display, especially on a large scale:

    The coronation was a lavish spectacle.

  3. spectacles. eyeglasses, especially with pieces passing over or around the ears for holding them in place.
  4. Often spectacles.
    1. something resembling spectacles in shape or function.
    2. any of various devices suggesting spectacles, as one attached to a semaphore to display lights or different colors by colored glass.
  5. Obsolete. a spyglass.


/ ˈspɛktəkəl /


  1. a public display or performance, esp a showy or ceremonial one
  2. a thing or person seen, esp an unusual or ridiculous one

    he makes a spectacle of himself

  3. a strange or interesting object or phenomenon
  4. modifier of or relating to spectacles

    a spectacle case

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Other Words From

  • specta·cle·less adjective
  • specta·cle·like adjective
  • super·specta·cle noun

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Word History and Origins

Origin of spectacle1

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English, from Latin spectāculum “sight, spectacle,” from spectā(re) “to look at,” literally, “to look repeatedly” (from specere “to look, regard, see”) + -culum -cle 2

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Word History and Origins

Origin of spectacle1

C14: via Old French from Latin spectaculum a show, from spectāre to watch, from specere to look at

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Idioms and Phrases

  1. make a spectacle of oneself, to call attention to one's unseemly behavior; behave foolishly or badly in public:

    They tell me I made a spectacle of myself at the party last night.

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Example Sentences

This is not high production value YouTube, or YouTube driven by spectacle or personality.

From Eater

More meta-comedy than action spectacle, it’s the rare superhero story that could potentially appeal to viewers, like me, whose eyes glaze over when battle scenes run longer than a few minutes.

From Time

To be sure, the football spectacle changed to accommodate the realities of the war.

Wilkie speculated in an email that Takano was “laying the grounds for a spectacle.”

Signing now would help him avoid a spectacle this season and focus on basketball and his family, which have been his priorities throughout his career.

Even by the already money-drenched standards of American politics, the Eldridge campaign was a jaw-dropping spectacle to behold.

In 1881, along came Bailey, operator of another circus, and two circuses joined to give rise to the first three-ring spectacle.

Had they been in the West Bank, the spectacle would hardly have attracted notice.

The plot of the film runs secondary to the spectacle, and is denser than a TED conference.

Today, the quaint spectacle of a stage-managed fairy-tale celebration strikes many of us as a load of garbage.

In the evening, St. Peter's and its accessories were illuminated—by far the most brilliant spectacle I ever saw.

Thus all about us is the moving and shifting spectacle of riches and poverty, side by side, inextricable.

Children, like uneducated adults, have been known to take a spectacle on the stage of a theatre too seriously.

No one has ever seen so strange a spectacle and I very much doubt if any one will ever see it again.

As pointed out above, the action in a child's play is not intended as a dramatic spectacle.


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Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.