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See more synonyms for spotlight on Thesaurus.com
  1. a strong, focused light thrown upon a particular spot, as on a small area of a stage or in a television studio, for making some object, person, or group especially conspicuous.
  2. a lamp for producing such a light.
  3. a brilliant light with a focused beam, mounted on the side of an automobile and used for illuminating objects not within range of the headlights.
  4. the area of immediate or conspicuous public attention: Asia is in the spotlight now.
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verb (used with object), spot·light·ed or spot·lit, spot·light·ing.
  1. to direct the beam of a spotlight upon; light with a spotlight.
  2. to make conspicuous; call attention to: Newspapers spotlighted the story for a week.
  3. to hunt (animals) using a spotlight in order to temporarily blind or confuse them.
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verb (used without object), spot·light·ed or spot·lit, spot·light·ing.
  1. to hunt by using a spotlight.
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Origin of spotlight

First recorded in 1910–15; spot + light1
Related formsspot·light·er, nounun·spot·light·ed, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for spotlight

limelight, publicity, light, notoriety, fame, highlight, publicize, accentuate, illuminate, interest, flashlight, floodlight, feature

Examples from the Web for spotlight

Contemporary Examples of spotlight

Historical Examples of spotlight

  • They had a spotlight on one of the cars which they kept moving in wide circles.

  • She was standing in a spotlight, Forrester thought at first.

    Pagan Passions

    Gordon Randall Garrett

  • The Swami made a determined effort to recapture the spotlight.

    Sense from Thought Divide

    Mark Irvin Clifton

  • To go down at this point was simply to spotlight his presence for any Throg on his trail.

    Storm Over Warlock

    Andre Norton

  • At least, it would put Frank Corson, unknown intern, into the spotlight for a while.

    Ten From Infinity

    Paul W. Fairman

British Dictionary definitions for spotlight


  1. a powerful light focused so as to illuminate a small area, usually mounted so that it can be directed at will
  2. the spotlight the focus of attention
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verb -lights, -lighting, -lit or -lighted (tr)
  1. to direct a spotlight on
  2. to focus attention on
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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 spotlight


1904, from spot (n.) + light (n.). Originally a theatrical equipment; figurative sense is attested from 1916. The verb is first recorded 1923.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with spotlight


see in the limelight (spotlight); steal the show (spotlight).

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