Definitions

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

  • n. A mirror or polished metal plate used as a reflector in optical instruments.
  • n. An instrument for dilating the opening of a body cavity for medical examination.
  • n. Zoology A bright, often iridescent patch of color on the wings of certain birds, especially ducks.
  • n. Zoology A transparent spot in the wings of some butterflies or moths.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A medical instrument used during an examination to dilate an orifice.
  • n. A mirror.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A mirror, or looking-glass; especially, a metal mirror, as in Greek and Roman archæology.
  • n. A reflector of polished metal, especially one used in reflecting telescopes. See Speculum metal, below.
  • n. An instrument for dilating certain passages of the body, and throwing light within them, thus facilitating examination or surgical operations.
  • n. A bright and lustrous patch of color found on the wings of ducks and some other birds. It is usually situated on the distal portions of the secondary quills, and is much more brilliant in the adult male than in the female.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Something to look into or from; specifically, a mirror or looking-glass.
  • n. An attachment to or part of an optical instrument, as a reflecting telescope, having a brightly polished surface for the reflection of objects.
  • n. In ornithology:
  • n. An ocellus or eye-spot, as of a peacock's tail. See ocellus, 4.
  • n. The mirror of a wing, a specially colored area on some of the flight-feathers.
  • n. In anatomy, the septum lucidum of the brain. See cut under corpus.
  • n. In medicine and surgery, an instrument used for rendering a part accessible to observation, especially by opening or enlarging an orifice.
  • n. A lookout; a place to spy from.
  • n. In astrology, a table exhibiting at one view the latitudes, destinations, semi-arcs, etc., of the planets in a nativity.

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

  • n. a mirror (especially one made of polished metal) for use in an optical instrument
  • n. a medical instrument for dilating a bodily passage or cavity in order to examine the interior

Etymologies

Middle English, surgical speculum, from Latin, mirror, from specere, to look at; see spek- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin speculum ("mirror"), diminutive form from root spec-, to look at + diminutive suffix -ulum. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Prosecutor Shane Deel told the jury during opening statements that Hawkins purchased the speculum from a sex toy Web site that specializes in bondage items and that he had it mailed from Oregon to arrive by Jan. 31, 2005, when the assault is alleged to have occurred.

    Girl testifies in Yedidiyah Hawkins’ sexual assault trial

  • A specially designed speculum is used to help direct the injection into the G-spot, with effects lasting around four months.

    G Marks The Spot

  • The hen wigeon can be confused with the hen gadwall, but the latter's bill is orange-red and its wing lacks the green stripe separating the speculum from the shoulder patch.

    Field Guide: Know Your Waterfowl

  • Dr. FEBLES: This is called a speculum, and I put this in their mouth to keep their mouth open so that I can put my hands in there and work without any kind of fear of getting my fingers removed.

    A Dentist Who Goes Straight To The Horse's Mouth

  • One of the ways to get yourself noticed in Hollywood is to write a "spec" script, which I believe stands for "speculation," "speculative" or "speculum" - but I'm not sure which.

    soft-shell crab roll

  • A speculum is a small metal or plastic tool that holds the inside of the vagina open.

    Chapter 15

  • Mr. Maudslay was interested in the idea I suggested; and he requested me to show him what I knew of the art of compounding the alloy called speculum metal.

    James Nasmyth: Engineer, An Autobiography.

  • A reflecting telescope of the present day would not be fitted with a mirror composed of that alloy known as speculum metal, whose composition I have already mentioned.

    Great Astronomers

  • They have an iridescent green speculum, which is separated from a bluish shoulder patch by a white stripe.

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  • A popular quattrocento exercise of rhetorical amplification translated paradigma, the Greek term for king, as "speculum," emphasizing that the prince should be an exemplary mirror for his people (Labalme, Bernardo Giustiniani, 46).

    Architecture and Memory: The Renaissance Studioli of Federico da Montefeltro

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Comments

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  • I was always annoyed that the academic journal for medieval studies is called Speculum.

    April 25, 2009