Definition of spectre in English:


(US specter)


  • 1A ghost.

    ‘a dread of spectres and witches affected every aspect of daily life’
    • ‘It was translucent and obviously a ghost or a close variation of a specter, bowing at the young scientist courteously.’
    • ‘In such a light, psychology would be the science of the double, of specters, and every photograph a double exposure.’
    • ‘The actress was forced to review her disbelief in ghosts when she saw a spectre at New York's Belasco Theater.’
    • ‘It was as if I were following a hidden specter or ghost.’
    • ‘But the movie is mostly about people seeing ghost images on TVs, seeing specters and electronics turning themselves on and off.’
    • ‘The two men led us in silence, moving like two specters from something out of a ghost story.’
    • ‘He believes the spectre is the ghost of Pte Crowley, of the 11th North Devonshire Regiment.’
    • ‘A hunter of ghosts since his late teens, 35-year-old Taylor says interest in spooks, specters and other spiritual what-not is greater than ever.’
    • ‘When is the last time you played a ‘survival-horror’ game that featured specters, spirits, and ghosts as the main enemy?’
    • ‘The train, with its dim lights, stood there like a monster spectre in the dark.’
    • ‘Only when memory is, like the narrator's in Kesey's novel, sufficiently dim, do the dead appear as specters and ghosts.’
    • ‘Of course, this scary apparition is a specter much more often cited than sighted.’
    • ‘In curing speech of specters and ghosts, analytical philosophy claims to cleanse the mind of a dreamy fondness for every sort of idealism, vitalism, Platonism, and transcendentalism.’
    • ‘As more people got into the accusation game, the stories became more bizarre, with accusers claiming, for example, to have seen the specters of witches and witnessed their deeds.’
    • ‘They both sensed the spectre's presence at the same time.’
    • ‘I didn't know why, but the invisible specter made his presence more felt.’
    • ‘I searched the entire throne room, expecting to find a specter or ghost pop out at any second, and my imagination slowly took over reason.’
    • ‘Earlier I compared the apparition of specters in Observe the Sons of Ulster to sequences of reverance in Macbeth and Hamlet.’
    • ‘The castle itself was haunted, and not just be family ghosts like the Manor, but by terrifying blood drenched spectres, ghouls and a poltergeist.’
    • ‘People love to be frightened by make-believe versions of the supernatural, such as ghost stories and vividly hideous specters that pop out of the dark.’
    ghost, phantom, apparition, spirit, wraith, shadow, presence, illusion
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Something widely feared as a possible unpleasant or dangerous occurrence.
      ‘the spectre of nuclear holocaust’
      • ‘We would have a brighter future, not threatened by the specter of global warming.’
      • ‘A final problem is the specter of human reproductive cloning - to which nearly all voters are opposed.’
      • ‘The ease with which he could jump from a crisis of British farming to the spectre of biological warfare highlighted the salience of fear as a political resource today.’
      • ‘The spectre of fascism is not haunting Europe, reports Dominic Standish from Italy.’
      • ‘Lately she's been thinking a lot about selling her home to break free from debt, because she fears the specter of foreclosure every day.’
      • ‘Jamieson, a lawyer, raised the spectre of legal trouble for the assembly if chiefs were not allowed to vote.’
      • ‘Biological, chemical and nuclear threats have all figured large, as has the spectre of the suicide bomber or pilot.’
      • ‘The city transportation engineer offered these encouraging words at a preferred-parking hearing, in response to a questioner who had raised the specter of counterfeit parking permits.’
      • ‘Such a government is threatened at all times by the spectre of a vote of non-confidence, forcing an election or change of government.’
      • ‘That was the Fed's first rate hike in four years, driven by growing evidence of a strengthening U.S. labour market and the spectre of new inflationary pressures.’
      • ‘But a series of U.S. and Soviet hydrogen bomb tests reawakened public fears, this time focused on the specter of radioactive fallout.’
      • ‘It also raises the specter of a dangerous shift toward protectionism.’
      • ‘The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 also greatly intensified middle-class fears of the spectre of the radical Left.’
      • ‘Again, the specter of counterparty risk becomes an issue.’
      • ‘However, intensive care also raises the specter of treatment for treatment's sake and fears of a life prolonged needlessly by machines.’
      • ‘Our world has changed; we must adjust our living habits as necessary to address the increased danger that the specter of terrorism brings.’
      • ‘And with the creep of monetary inflation comes the specter of myriad inflationary effects, currency debasement, and progressive monetary disorder.’
      • ‘In China, a huge surplus and high savings are raising the specter of inflation.’
      • ‘Overblown fears about social instability have created the spectre of the terrorist asylum seeker.’
      • ‘There is not a sport within the Olympic movement that does not have a cloud hanging over it in terms of the spectre of drug abuse.’
      threat, menace, shadow, cloud, vision
      View synonyms


Early 17th century: from French spectre or Latin spectrum (see spectrum).