Definition of spectacle in US English:

spectacle

noun

  • 1A visually striking performance or display.

    ‘the acrobatic feats make a good spectacle’
    ‘the show is pure spectacle’
    • ‘This promises first-class singing and colourful spectacle.’
    • ‘By the 19th century the play had been transformed into a spectacle of patriotic pageantry celebrating imperial Britain and the glory of its military.’
    • ‘Moreover, each spectacle can be enjoyed by local residents as much as by tourists.’
    • ‘Each year this has been a most impressive and enjoyable spectacle.’
    • ‘This horse and pony section has developed enormously over the past number of years and is a very colourful spectacle.’
    • ‘In the end, we get a made-for-TV movie with a big budget: a dumb plot, poor performances and lots of spectacle.’
    • ‘Gladiatorial combats, wild beast hunts, and public executions were important spectacles presented not only in Rome but throughout the Roman Empire.’
    • ‘Jewellery (including metal tubes covering an entire arm) was tailored directly into the clothes for the show, creating an impressive spectacle.’
    • ‘Instead, they were grand spectacles with thousands of spectators present to watch the coronations.’
    • ‘The result was a visually satisfying and sumptuous spectacle; its 350 costumes must be every little girl's dream of a fairy tale.’
    • ‘While medieval diners ate, at formal meals, they observed the spectacle that was performed between courses.’
    • ‘But don't expect gimmicky spectacle from their performance.’
    • ‘Everywhere amazing spectacles were being performed, as crowds gathered and applauded the snake charmers, coal-walkers, and fire-eaters.’
    • ‘Families strolled through the ancient streets enjoying the spectacle, buying cheap toys for the children, and snacking on street food.’
    • ‘If that isn't enough, lovely performer Shanna will also be on hand to perform that most exotic spectacle, belly-dancing.’
    • ‘A handful of other artists staged theatrical public spectacles, performances grounded in the sociologies of place and personality.’
    • ‘These ballets were often elaborate spectacles, intended to display the status of the nobility or monarchs who had commissioned them.’
    • ‘There will also be a series of workshops, exhibitions and spectacles.’
    • ‘The play itself is a multi-media spectacle that uses puppetry, sound-effects, performing masks and a live band featuring some of the county's top musicians.’
    • ‘Heather Taylor and Amy Chu produced and performed in the spectacle.’
    display, show, performance, presentation, exhibition, pageant, parade, extravaganza
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    1. 1.1 An event or scene regarded in terms of its visual impact.
      ‘the spectacle of a city's mass grief’
      • ‘Now I had to admit that we watched this spectacle from a safe vantage point behind the baked beans aisle.’
      • ‘It would be an odd spectacle, for two friends of opposite sex parading through the town on horses with no saddle.’
      • ‘The two of them whooped and hollered some more; their wives sighed at the spectacle and regarded each other with love.’
      • ‘Once there, he was presented with a spectacle that he could hardly believe.’
      • ‘Townsfolk stood on the side, watching the unusual spectacle but not wanting to get involved.’
      • ‘So we are presented with the bizarre and bewildering spectacle of American planes dropping explosives and food on Afghanistan at the same time.’
      • ‘Like a reality TV show with guns, the coverage takes the everyday business of war, normally hidden from public view, and blows it up into a grisly, repulsive spectacle.’
      • ‘Several days later at the gates of Peel the villagers gathered silently to view the gruesome spectacle stuck upon a pike.’
      • ‘A beam of pure white light sliced through the darkness giving sight to the grizzly spectacle before them.’
      • ‘Across the city people clustered at office windows and gathered on factory roofs to view the spectacle.’
      • ‘If Christiana were not so strict, he probably would have slept on it, gazing at the stars in bliss, though it would have been an odd spectacle to see such a grand man asleep on the bare ground.’
      • ‘But the unseemly scenes provided an entertaining spectacle for those drinking in the evening sun outside the pub.’
      • ‘Young ones, as soon as they were fully developed, would be shaken out of their nests, a spectacle much commented upon by travellers.’
      • ‘Nothing is more distinctive than the chaotic spectacle of Neapolitan street-life.’
      • ‘They presented a frightening spectacle when they turned out in the piazza to protest.’
      • ‘But soon, the townsfolk began to gather outside of their homes to view the great spectacle that had suddenly appeared in the sky.’
      • ‘‘It's easier to weigh an elephant than you think,’ was his only comment when I stopped to investigate the unusual spectacle.’
      sight, vision, view, scene, prospect, vista, outlook, picture
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Phrases

  • make a spectacle of oneself

    • Draw attention to oneself by behaving in a ridiculous way in public.

      • ‘I would like to try novel-writing, but I don't think I've got the confidence not to make a spectacle of myself.’
      • ‘He says he is no good without them, as he would only make a spectacle of himself.’
      • ‘He'd have hated making a spectacle of himself like this.’
      • ‘It could be us falling over and making a spectacle of ourselves in public.’
      • ‘Some of them were making a spectacle of themselves, particularly Rebecca.’
      • ‘She couldn't believe she was making a spectacle of herself like this.’
      • ‘Others were drinking too much and making a spectacle of themselves.’
      • ‘I was shy and preferred to not make a spectacle of myself in public places.’
      • ‘There's no need to make a spectacle of yourself in front of company.’
      • ‘Everyone laughed uproariously at this, no doubt making a spectacle of themselves to the other patrons.’
      exhibition, laughing stock, fool, curiosity
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Origin

Middle English: via Old French from Latin spectaculum ‘public show’, from spectare, frequentative of specere ‘to look’.

Pronunciation

spectacle

/ˈspɛktək(ə)l//ˈspektək(ə)l/