[spek-yuh-luh m]
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noun, plural spec·u·la [spek-yuh-luh] /ˈspɛk yə lə/, spec·u·lums.
  1. a mirror or reflector, especially one of polished metal, as on a reflecting telescope.
  2. speculum metal.
  3. Surgery. an instrument for rendering a part accessible to observation, as by enlarging an orifice.
  4. Ornithology. a lustrous or specially colored area on the wings of certain birds.

Origin of speculum

1590–1600; < Latin: mirror, equivalent to spec(ere) to look, behold + -ulum instrumental suffix; see -ule
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for speculum

speculum, reflector, gaper, imager

Examples from the Web for speculum

Historical Examples of speculum

British Dictionary definitions for speculum


noun plural -la (-lə) or -lums
  1. a mirror, esp one made of polished metal for use in a telescope, etc
  2. med an instrument for dilating a bodily cavity or passage to permit examination of its interior
  3. a patch of distinctive colour on the wing of a bird, esp in certain ducks

Word Origin for speculum

C16: from Latin: mirror, 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 speculum

1590s, from Latin speculum, literally "mirror," from specere "to look at, view" (see scope (n.1)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

speculum in Medicine


n. pl. spec•u•lums
  1. A mirror or polished metal plate that is used as a reflector in optical instruments.
  2. An instrument that is used to dilate the opening of a body cavity for medical examination.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.