noun Chiefly British.

Nearby words

  1. spectral line,
  2. spectral luminous efficiency,
  3. spectral series,
  4. spectral type,
  5. spectrally,
  6. spectrin,
  7. spectro-,
  8. spectrobolometer,
  9. spectrochemical,
  10. spectrochemistry




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.
Also especially British, spec·tre.

Origin of specter

1595–1605; < Latin spectrum; see spectrum

1. shade. See ghost.

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

Examples from the Web for spectre

British Dictionary definitions for spectre


US specter


a ghost; phantom; apparition
a mental image of something unpleasant or menacingthe spectre of redundancy

Word Origin for spectre

C17: from Latin spectrum, from specere to look at

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

Word Origin and History for spectre
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper