Definition of speculum in English:



  • 1Medicine
    A metal or plastic instrument that is used to dilate an orifice or canal in the body to allow inspection.

    • ‘An instrument called a speculum, the same as used for a smear test, is sometimes used.’
    • ‘With the headlight and speculum the external auditory canal is inspected and cleared of any obstructing wax or debris.’
    • ‘The surgeon uses a wire speculum to retract the eyelids to expose the eyeball.’
    • ‘Using a nasal speculum, your doctor may look inside your nose for signs of allergic disease such as increased nasal secretions, swelling or polyps.’
    • ‘Your eyelids will be opened up using a small instrument called a speculum.’
  • 2Ornithology
    A bright patch of plumage on the wings of certain birds, especially a strip of metallic sheen on the secondary flight feathers of many ducks.

    • ‘Both sexes have orange feet and a blue speculum, or wing-patch, bordered in white on two sides, best seen in flight.’
    • ‘Females with unpatterned dark bills, an overall dark brown body colour, and a violet speculum with only the trailing edge with white were considered American Black Ducks.’
    • ‘The latter is important because dabbling ducks have a coloured area in the wing called the speculum.’
    • ‘Both sexes have a black and white wing-patch, or speculum, that is distinctive in flight.’
  • 3A mirror or reflector of glass or metal, especially (formerly) a metallic mirror in a reflecting telescope.

    • ‘If light ‘sees,’ then the speculum which reflects this seeing light can analogically participate in the solar vision that it reflects; it can derive from it its own vision.’
    • ‘A headlamp or head mirror and a nasal speculum should be used for optimal visualization.’
    • ‘This work of light allows us to see the shapes of the world reflected on the optical speculum.’
    1. 3.1
      short for speculum metal
      • ‘He made his mirrors from speculum metal - four parts copper to one part tin - but had to construct a forge to melt the speculum and cast the disc from which the mirror could be ground.’


Late Middle English: from Latin, literally mirror from specere to look.