[ spot ]
See synonyms for: spotspotsspottedspotting on

  1. a rounded mark or stain made by foreign matter, as mud, blood, paint, ink, etc.; a blot or speck.

  2. something that mars one's character or reputation; blemish; flaw.

  1. a small blemish, mole, or lesion on the skin or other surface.

  2. a small, circumscribed mark caused by disease, allergic reaction, decay, etc.

  3. a comparatively small, usually roundish, part of a surface differing from the rest in color, texture, character, etc.: a bald spot.

  4. a place or locality: A monument marks the spot where Washington slept.

  5. Usually spots . places of entertainment or sightseeing interest: We went to a few spots to dance and see the floor shows.

  6. a specific position in a sequence or hierarchy: The choral group has the second spot on the program, right after the dancers. He moved up from second spot to become president of the firm.

  7. Cards.

    • one of various traditional, geometric drawings of a club, diamond, heart, or spade on a playing card for indicating suit and value.

    • any playing card from a two through a ten: He drew a jack, a queen, and a three spot.

  8. a pip, as on dice or dominoes.

  9. Slang. a piece of paper money, almost always indicated as a five- or ten-dollar bill: Can you loan me a five spot until payday?

  10. Also called spot illustration . a small drawing, usually black and white, appearing within or accompanying a text.

  11. Chiefly British Informal.

    • a small quantity of anything.

    • a drink: a spot of tea.

  12. a small croaker, Leiostomus xanthurus, of the eastern coast of the U.S., used as a food fish.

  13. spots, Informal. commodities, as grain, wool, and soybeans, sold for immediate delivery.

  14. Informal. spotlight (def. 1).

verb (used with object),spot·ted, spot·ting.
  1. to stain or mark with spots: The grease spotted my dress.

  2. to remove a spot or spots from (clothing), especially before dry cleaning.

  1. to sully; blemish.

  2. to mark or diversify with spots or dots, as of color: We spotted the wall with blue paint.

  3. to detect or recognize; locate or identify by seeing: to spot a hiding child.

  4. to place or position on a particular place: to spot a billiard ball.

  5. to stop (a railroad car) at the exact place required.

  6. to scatter in various places: to spot chairs here and there in the room.

  7. Informal. spotlight (def. 5).

  8. Military.

    • to determine (a location) precisely on either the ground or a map.

    • to observe (the results of gunfire at or near a target) for the purpose of correcting aim.

  9. Photography. to remove spots from (a negative or print) by covering with opaque color.

  10. Sports. to give or grant a certain margin or advantage to (an opponent): He spotted the tyro 12 points a game. The champion won, although spotting the challenger twenty pounds.

  11. (in gymnastics) to watch or assist (a performer) in order to prevent injury.

  12. Slang. to lend: Can you spot me twenty for tonight's game?

verb (used without object),spot·ted, spot·ting.
  1. to make a spot; cause a stain: Ink spots badly.

  2. to become spotted, as some fabrics when spattered with water.

  1. Military. to serve or act as a spotter.

  1. Radio, Television.

    • pertaining to the point of origin of a local broadcast.

    • broadcast between announced programs.

  2. made, paid, delivered, etc., at once: a spot sale; spot goods.

Idioms about spot

  1. hit the high spots, Informal. to deal with or include only the major points of interest: With but a limited amount of vacation time, he concentrated on hitting the high spots of Europe.

  2. hit the spot, Informal. to satisfy a want or need, as to quench thirst: Iced tea hits the spot during the hot summer months.

  1. in a (bad) spot, in an uncomfortable or dangerous predicament: The tourists found themselves in a bad spot after they lost their money in Las Vegas.

  2. knock spots off, British Slang. to outdo easily; beat.

  3. on the spot,

    • without delay; at once; instantly.

    • at the very place in question.

    • in a difficult or embarrassing position.

    • in a position of being expected to act or to respond in some way.

Origin of spot

First recorded in 1150–1200; (for the noun) Middle English spotte; cognate with Middle Dutch, Low German spot “speck,” Old Norse spotti “bit”; (for the verb) late Middle English spotten “to stain, mark,” derivative of the noun

Other words for spot

Other words from spot

  • spotlike, adjective
  • spot·ta·ble, adjective
  • non·spot·ta·ble, adjective
  • re·spot, verb, re·spot·ted, re·spot·ting.
  • un·spot·ta·ble, adjective

Words Nearby spot Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use spot in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for spot


/ (spɒt) /

  1. a small mark on a surface, such as a circular patch or stain, differing in colour or texture from its surroundings

  2. a geographical area that is restricted in extent: a beauty spot

  1. a location: this is the exact spot on which he died

  2. a blemish of the skin, esp a pimple or one occurring through some disease

  3. a blemish on the character of a person; moral flaw

  4. informal a place of entertainment: we hit all the night spots

  5. informal, mainly British a small quantity or amount: a spot of lunch

  6. informal an awkward situation: that puts me in a bit of a spot

  7. a short period between regular television or radio programmes that is used for advertising

  8. a position or length of time in a show assigned to a specific performer

  9. short for spotlight

  10. (in billiards)

    • Also called: spot ball the white ball that is distinguished from the plain by a mark or spot

    • the player using this ball

  11. billiards snooker one of several small black dots on a table that mark where a ball is to be placed

  12. (modifier)

    • denoting or relating to goods, currencies, or securities available for immediate delivery and payment: spot goods See also spot market, spot price

    • involving immediate cash payment: spot sales

  13. change one's spots (used mainly in negative constructions) to reform one's character

  14. high spot an outstanding event: the high spot of the holiday was the visit to the winery

  15. knock spots off to outstrip or outdo with ease

  16. on the spot

    • immediately

    • at the place in question

    • in the best possible position to deal with a situation

    • in an awkward predicament

    • without moving from the place of one's location, etc

    • (as modifier): our on-the-spot reporter

  17. soft spot a special sympathetic affection or weakness for a person or thing

  18. tight spot a serious, difficult, or dangerous situation

  19. weak spot

    • some aspect of a character or situation that is susceptible to criticism

    • a flaw in a person's knowledge: classics is my weak spot

verbspots, spotting or spotted
  1. (tr) to observe or perceive suddenly, esp under difficult circumstances; discern

  2. to put stains or spots upon (something)

  1. (intr) (of some fabrics) to be susceptible to spotting by or as if by water: silk spots easily

  2. (tr) to place here and there: they spotted observers along the border

  3. to look out for and note (trains, talent, etc)

  4. (intr) to rain slightly; spit

  5. (tr) billiards to place (a ball) on one of the spots

  6. military to adjust fire in order to correct deviations from (the target) by observation

  7. (tr) US informal to yield (an advantage or concession) to (one's opponent): to spot someone a piece in chess

Origin of spot

C12 (in the sense: moral blemish): of German origin; compare Middle Dutch spotte, Old Norse spotti

Derived forms of spot

  • spottable, adjective

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with spot


see blind spot; hit the high spots; hit the spot; in a bind (tight spot); in a fix (spot); Johnny-on-the-spot; knock the socks (spots) off; leopard cannot change its spots; on the spot; rooted to the spot; soft spot; x marks the spot.

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