Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Something that can be seen or viewed, especially something of a remarkable or impressive nature.
  • n. A public performance or display, especially one on a large or lavish scale.
  • n. A regrettable public display, as of bad behavior: drank too much and made a spectacle of himself.
  • n. A pair of eyeglasses.
  • n. Something resembling eyeglasses in shape or suggesting them in function.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Something exhibited to view; usually, something presented to view as extraordinary, or as unusual and worthy of special notice; a remarkable or noteworthy sight; a show; a pageant
  • n. An exciting exhibition, performance or event.
  • n. An embarrassing situation
  • n. An optical instrument consisting of two lenses set in a light frame, and worn to assist sight, to obviate some defect in the organs of vision, or to shield the eyes from bright light.
  • n. An aid to the intellectual sight.
  • n. A spyglass; a looking-glass.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Something exhibited to view; usually, something presented to view as extraordinary, or as unusual and worthy of special notice; a remarkable or noteworthy sight; a show; a pageant; a gazingstock.
  • n. A spy-glass; a looking-glass.
  • n. An optical instrument consisting of two lenses set in a light frame, and worn to assist sight, to obviate some defect in the organs of vision, or to shield the eyes from bright light.
  • n. Fig.: An aid to the intellectual sight.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An exhibition; exposure to sight or view; an open display; also, a thing looked at or to be looked at; a sight; a gazing-stock; a show; especially, a deplorable exhibition.
  • n. Specifically, a public show or display for the gratification of the eye; something designed or arranged to attract and entertain spectators; a pageant; a parade: as, a royal or a religious spectacle; a military or a dramatic spectacle.
  • n. A looking-glass; a mirror.
  • n. A spyglass; a speculum.
  • n. plural A pair of lenses set in a frame adjusted to the eyes, to correct or improve defective vision; also, sometimes, a similar frame with pieces of plain white or colored glass to protect the eyes from glare or dust: commonly called a pair of spectacles.
  • n. plural Figuratively, visual aids of any kind, physical or mental; instruments of or assistance in seeing or understanding; also, instruments or means of seeing or understanding otherwise than by natural or normal vision or perception: as, rose-colored spectacles; I cannot see things with your spectacles.
  • n. plural In zoology, a marking resembling a pair of spectacles, especially about the eyes: as, the spectacles of the cobra. See cut under cobra-de-capello.
  • n. A form of spectacles having in each bow two half glasses differing in power or character; divided spectacles. See def. 5.
  • n. plural Signal-glasses of varying color, held in a metal frame suggesting spectacles, to be moved in front of the lenses of signal-lights at night: usually of red and green if there are two. Also used, in the singular, for one frame with its colored glass.
  • n. A frame with two bow-shaped handles for carrying well-boring tools.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. something or someone seen (especially a notable or unusual sight)
  • n. an elaborate and remarkable display on a lavish scale
  • n. a blunder that makes you look ridiculous; used in the phrase `make a spectacle of' yourself

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French, from Latin spectāculum, from spectāre, to watch, frequentative of specere, to look at; see spek- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English, from Old French spectacle, from Latin spectaculum ("a show, spectacle"), from spectare ("to see, behold"), frequentative of specere ("to see"); see species. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • I've lived in New York City long enough to expect the unexpected and keep cool in the presence of insanity, but an Orthodox Jew cold busting his human beatbox, dressed only in his skivvies and swilling Jack Daniels, still feels to me worthy of the term "spectacle."

    Patrick Egan: Family Feud: Teeth of the Sons

  • The NFL all-star showdown was played in Honolulu from 1980 through 2009 in the week after the Super Bowl but moved this year to a week before the Super Bowl and to the site of the title spectacle as an experiment.

    Raw Story

  • John Hendrickson of the Denver Post logged into the Occupy Wall Street stream of consciousness over the weekend with a post on the newspaper's website and in the printed pages of its Sunday entertainment section, providing a little extra to what he calls the "spectacle" of the occupy movement.

    Robert Schwab: The Entertainment Value of Occupying Wall Street

  • The stage for this spectacle is an intimate, aqua theater in-the-round.

    Imagination Soars with Le Reve at Wynn Las Vegas

  • The society of the spectacle is the Emperor's court, where those charlatans and showmen are mere dancing bears, pathetic mockeries of the wild and bestial.

    THE HALLS OF PENTHEUS -- PART ONE

  • Largely unnoticed in this spectacle is the blinding fact that one nation is missing from the long list of Muslim countries (by which I mean France and England) with hundreds of crazy Muslims experiencing bipolar rage over some cartoons: Iraq.

    "opinion pieces without any opinion "

  • But if the society of the spectacle is as much about knocking the idols off the pedestals as about putting them up there in the first place, I'd rather not be SF's Pete Doherty, cheers.

    Hype Hype Hoorah!

  • "The notion that video of Tyler doing what he was doing can be considered a spectacle is just heinous," said Jordan Gochman, 19, of Jackson, who didn't know Clementi.

    Tyler Clementi's Suicide Sparks Outrage At Rutgers (VIDEO)

  • Pacing aside, the action in Salvation, though at times a spectacle, is irrelevant and contrived.

    REVIEW: Terminator Salvation « Giant Killer Squid - Film, Comics, News, Reviews and more

  • An interesting spectacle is developing in Montgomery County in the long-running debate over whether to levy ambulance fees there.

    Montgomery government campaigns in election, drawing lawsuit

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