Definitions

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

  • n. A ghostly apparition; a phantom.
  • n. A haunting or disturbing image or prospect: the terrible specter of nuclear war.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A ghostly apparition.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Something preternaturally visible; an apparition; a ghost; a phantom.
  • n.
  • n. The tarsius.
  • n. A stick insect.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A ghostly apparition; a visible incorporeal human spirit; an appearance of the dead as when living.
  • n. In zoology: One of many names of gressorial orthopterous insects of the family Phasmidæ; a walking-stick or stick-insect; a specter-insect.
  • n. The specter-bat.
  • n. The specter-lemur.
  • n. A specter-shrimp.
  • n. Synonyms Apparition, Phantom, etc. See ghost.

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

  • n. a ghostly appearing figure
  • n. a mental representation of some haunting experience

Etymologies

French spectre, from Latin spectrum, appearance, apparition; see spectrum.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French spectre, from Latin spectrum, appearance, apparition. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • May 10th, 2010 4: 32 pm ET arlen specter is still alive?

    Specter's 2009 vote on Kagan now a 2010 issue

  • I can not believe specter is calling out his opponent for "not being a real democrat."

    Specter: Sestak a 'flagrant hypocrite'

  • August 11th, 2009 4: 36 pm ET arlen specter is at the current moment having explained to him the increasing debt by an 18 year old at the lewisburg town hall.

    Obama: Status quo is scarier than health-care overhaul

  • His life and loved ones are all lost to him, but a specter from the past awakens him to an identity more than 3200 years ago.

    Let’s Bypass the Elite in Book Design, Too

  • I am pretty sure that the scene they showed with night owl and silk specter is actually a dream that Night Owl has. and yes i do know that they are going with the nukes instead of the giant squid monster.

    Extended Watchmen Movie Trailer from Scream 2008 | /Film

  • "Of course, Conlin, in the midst of the dark revelry, meets the Bone Man; and the specter is very real; and the encounter leaves Conlin forever changed (ominous chuckle)."

    John Joseph Adams » 2007 » November

  • A specter is stalking the Western world, and it looks a lot like Grandma.

    kill grandma

  • Lest there be any doubt about the semantic authority of these b-t-t associations, it should be observed that the Marquis's first step upon being confronted with this report about the specter is to place a bed in the room in question and to spend the night there himself.

    Reading, Begging, Paul de Man

  • In this final encounter with the ghost, the specter is for the first time described not simply by association — that is, in the thrice-repeated "it sounded as if someone lying on the floor got up …" — but with the facticity of agency:

    Reading, Begging, Paul de Man

  • To paraphrase Karl Marx, a specter is haunting Europe ...

    June 2005

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