a visible incorporeal spirit, especially one of a terrifying nature; ghost; phantom; apparition.
some object or source of terror or dread: the specter of disease or famine.

Nearby words

  1. spectator,
  2. spectator pump,
  3. spectator sport,
  4. spectator, the,
  5. spectatorial,
  6. spectinomycin,
  7. spector,
  8. spectra,
  9. spectra yellow,
  10. spectral

Also especially British, spec·tre.

Origin of specter

1595–1605; < Latin spectrum; see spectrum

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for specter

Word Origin and History for specter



c.1600, from French spectre "an image, figure, ghost" (16c.), from Latin spectrum "appearance, vision, apparition" (see spectrum).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper