Definition of spectrum in English:


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nounplural noun spectra/ˈspektrə/ /ˈspɛktrə/ , plural noun spectrums

  • 1A band of colors, as seen in a rainbow, produced by separation of the components of light by their different degrees of refraction according to wavelength.

    ‘If viewed through a prism, however, there is a decomposition of the light into the colors of the spectrum, each with different wavelengths.’
    • ‘He has used the spectrum of colours in the rainbow effectively to create an atmosphere of calm.’
    • ‘He is shown seated before his famous invention: a ruling machine for producing concave diffraction gratings, which are slightly curved metal plates scored with minutely spaced lines that diffract light into spectra.’
    • ‘Visible light consists of a ‘rainbow’ or spectrum of electromagnetic waves of different wavelengths.’
    • ‘The screen is made with a patented grading, much like the ones used by scientists to view the visible light spectrum in its component colors.’
    • ‘Prismatic refraction shows us the spectrum flashing out of a sort of nothing, which suggests a possible return into a single all-containing invisible source.’
    • ‘The crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, sending sparkles across the walls, rainbow spectra around the atmosphere were enchanting her in every way.’
    • ‘The lights quickly alternated between blindingly bright and soothingly dimmed, while the reflective surfaces refracted lasers into spectra of color.’
    • ‘A myriad of colors and textures, expertly placed, well lit candles, sending spectra of light cascading off elegantly woven rugs hanging on the walls.’
    • ‘His head cocked to the side as he studied the light that bounced from the back of some of them in a rainbow spectrum.’
    • ‘Thus, in the instance above cited, they have discovered the black lines which always exist in the spectrum of solar colours given by a glass prism, in the same relative places.’
    • ‘Instead, new research finds that sexual orientations exist along a continuum, like colors in the spectrum of a rainbow.’
    • ‘She wore a flowing robe of reflective black cloth with a special surface that made it reflect light in a brilliant spectrum of colors.’
    • ‘Their blossoms encompass nearly the entire color spectrum and blooming times range from early spring to fall, depending on the variety.’
    1. 1.1the spectrumThe entire range of wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation.
      ‘Light, the diet of eyes, constitutes a tiny part of the entire spectrum of electromagnetic radiation.’
      • ‘In the meantime over twenty presentations internationally have moved to show that across the spectrum electromagnetic fields are genotoxic, that is they damage DNA.’
      • ‘But apricot can add a spring-like touch as well, since it falls more in the yellow-orange range of the spectrum.’
      • ‘It operates in the visible and near-infrared range of the spectrum.’
      • ‘The backdrop of sky passes through the entire color spectrum in seamless gradation from violet and indigo above through queasy green and luminous gold to a deep, luscious red below.’
      • ‘Although many of them boast about how much protection they provide, according to Vanessa they will usually not cover the entire UV spectrum.’
      • ‘All the pigments absorb light energy to be used by the leaf, but each absorbs only a particular range of wavelengths, or part of the spectrum.’
      • ‘The lens filters out the blue range of the spectrum, thereby making subaquatic colors look normal.’
      • ‘Also of note is the way in which Melville shaded the entire film towards the blue end of the spectrum.’
      • ‘The unaided eye is sensitive to just one octave out of the vast spectrum of electromagnetic radiation that exists in the universe.’
      • ‘They determine which part of the spectrum would be absorbed and which would pass through unhindered.’
      • ‘The other great problem of glass envelopes is their transparency not only to light, but to much of the electro-magnetic spectrum.’
      • ‘What's more, because the new light source produces white light by mixing blue, green and red, the source can emit any color in the spectrum by varying the mix.’
    2. 1.2An image or distribution of components of any electromagnetic radiation arranged in a progressive series according to wavelength.
      ‘The adsorption and emission of spectra characteristic of atoms also suggested that they were due to the oscillations of charged particles on the atomic or sub-atomic scale.’
      • ‘One method they use, fluorescence spectroscopy, involves recording optical spectra from molecules absorbing and emitting light.’
      • ‘It should be noted that immunoglobulins often can be found throughout the electrophoretic spectrum.’
      • ‘The measurement of the wavelengths of light that are absorbed by the substance can be used to produce an absorbance spectrum of the substance.’
      • ‘Already, researchers are working on satellites that can read the unique color spectrums emitted by people's skin and cameras that can tell whether people are lying by how frequently they blink.’
      • ‘Using a spectrometer, the transmittance spectrum is measured in a number of small regions in a stained tissue slide.’
      • ‘Purified lipid-DNA adducts had a characteristic fluorescent spectra and showed a decrease of hyperchromicity and melting point.’
      • ‘Since acupuncture points on the same meridian have similar therapeutic effects, they might be expected to have similar effects on the frequency spectrum of the arterial pulse.’
      • ‘Results were derived from the comparative interpretation of the conventional EEG results and the frequency spectra data, for both the experimental and control subjects.’
      • ‘For those outside the field, an NMR spectrum of a typical organic molecule is a rather complex linear plot of multiple lines and peaks.’
      • ‘Indeed the IR spectrum of the polymer before extrusion and after balloon manufacturing is the same.’
      • ‘Extensive collections of infrared spectra, X - ray diffraction patterns and chromatograms will also be digitized and uploaded.’
      • ‘This offers the option of an FFT frequency analysis to view the spectrum of the raw signal or of the distortion analyzer's residual output.’
      • ‘The chemical bonds in Prussian blue produce a unique spectrum with FTIR analysis that can be easily distinguished from all other pigments.’
      • ‘At that point, the differences in reflected light, or spectra, of female and male pupae were most apparent.’
      • ‘He began to classify all the known nebulae and to measure their velocities from the spectra of their emitted light.’
      • ‘But differences in spectra led some to suspect that single bubble sonoluminescence was a distinct process from the multibubble variety.’
      • ‘Some nebulae give spectra that look like a star's, and she was familiar with them, but the Orion Nebula gave quite a different spectrum - just a single bright green line.’
      • ‘We want a library of spectra from different cell types and their cancers.’
      • ‘Experimentally, infrared absorption spectra are obtained using infrared spectrometers.’
    3. 1.3An image or distribution of components of sound, particles, etc., arranged according to such characteristics as frequency, charge, and energy.
      ‘The properties ascribed to electrons, for instance, such as their charge and half-integral spin, were themselves responses to quite specific experimental findings involving discharge tube phenomena and spectra.’
      • ‘The height of the spectrum indicates the extent of that frequency's contribution to the variance of the growth rate.’
      • ‘Radio spectrum can also be mapped in other ways, onto territory.’
      • ‘This means certain groups of atoms have similar energies, so have similar vibrational spectra.’
      • ‘Cross-correlation analysis on EEG spectra and performance time series were carried out for a single participant.’
      • ‘The EEG frequency spectra were derived from 30 second samples that were digitized at a rate of 330 Hz, resulting in 9900 points.’
      • ‘The radio has 256 channels and emits spectrum signals that create noise, making the communication difficult to detect.’
      • ‘Small, but significant, differences are noted between the rate spectra at both pH.’
  • 2Used to classify something, or suggest that it can be classified, in terms of its position on a scale between two extreme or opposite points.

    ‘the left or the right of the political spectrum’
    • ‘Modern biology has come to occupy an extreme position in the spectrum of the sciences, dominated by historical explanations of the evolutionary adventures of genes.’
    • ‘But, largely thanks to the Blairite project, the gap that separates the Tories and Labour has dramatically moved its position on the political spectrum.’
    • ‘If Churchill is so violently attacked by both extremes of the political spectrum, we can assume that he cannot have been that bad.’
    • ‘Journalists, across the political spectrum, publicized their position in the newspapers.’
    • ‘Other parties occupy various positions on the political spectrum.’
    • ‘Not bad for a man whose position on the political spectrum is roughly a million miles left to that of the average Irish voter.’
    • ‘There are a few on the way - on the right end of the spectrum politically, the extreme right wing, that want to keep it up there.’
    • ‘‘They will have to tell the people what exactly their position is in the political spectrum,’ he said.’
    • ‘I think it is bad for Chardonnay and it is bad for the wine industry to use that term to describe a part of the political spectrum.’
    • ‘My characters and I share a similar esteem for the middle-ground, between indulgence and obligation, and any extremes of the spectrum.’
    • ‘This past weekend I found myself stuck in a random debate with two people who were at one extreme end of the classic political spectrum.’
    • ‘And moving to the extreme end of the spectrum, Ziv began playing at trance parties.’
    • ‘This auction covers the whole spectrum in terms of the type of lots on offer and the estimates assigned them.’
    • ‘As I've suggested, they constitute a spectrum or a scale along which people take either more determined or less enthusiastic positions.’
    • ‘I recognise that these organisations are not banned as being unconstitutional but I accept the evidence of Funke that they and their members are on the extreme right of the political spectrum.’
    • ‘Starck adds that he works for both extremes of the monetary spectrum, and that his work for ‘wealthy clients’ allows him greater freedom to design for the masses.’
    • ‘You have two movies on extreme ends of the spectrum.’
    • ‘Normally when giving advice one doesn't just assume that the recipient of the advice falls at the extreme of the spectrum for the field being discussed.’
    • ‘These candidates accepted positions covering the full spectrum of jobs within a high-technology firm.’
    1. 2.1A wide range.
      ‘self-help books are covering a broader and broader spectrum’
      • ‘The budding writers touched upon a wide spectrum of issues ranging from suspense, fantasy, ghosts, sporting rivalry to philosophy and science fiction.’
      • ‘You've seen their work in a wide spectrum of venues ranging from Fast Forward to Time magazine, and now you can see it in person.’
      • ‘Economic geography supposedly has a wide spectrum of subjects, ranging from agrarian and pastoral economies to resource utilization and changes in land use.’
      • ‘In addition to the Internet, IT covers a wide spectrum of devices ranging from embedded microprocessors to supercomputers.’
      • ‘HBV can cause a wide spectrum of symptoms ranging from general malaise to chronic liver disease that can lead to liver cancer.’
      • ‘Interests range across a wide spectrum of sports, politics, environment, fine art, drama and community action.’
      • ‘Albeit there is a wide spectrum of orthodoxy, ranging from the devout to those who ignore the Gods.’
      • ‘The broad scope of the show encompasses a wide spectrum of artistic styles and printmaking techniques ranging from the traditional to the innovative and modern.’
      • ‘They play a range of great music that covers a wide spectrum and their spin makes it all the more worthwhile.’
      • ‘I have read a wide spectrum of theories and history, ranging from Marx to Mises.’
      • ‘Used bookstores offer a wide spectrum of genres, with best-selling novels published last year sharing the shelf with explorer's tales published over 100 years ago.’
      • ‘But what I think is interesting is, there's a wide spectrum of opinion about involvement in Africa, and this certainly represents it.’
      • ‘The point is we felt that all agencies had a fair opportunity to sell the property, that we tapped a wide spectrum of potential buyers, and came out of the deal satisfied with the overall marketing effort.’
      • ‘Over the three days of public hearings the board heard from a wide spectrum of people supporting the applications and a small number of local residents and business owners who opposed them.’
      • ‘If he eventually wrests control of the orphans' committee, Bertrand promises to fight for more cash compensation for a wider spectrum of victims of religious abuse.’
      • ‘Since the 1980s, however, a wide spectrum of Latin American opinion has come to recognize the value of democratic governance.’
      • ‘‘Once you are fascinated by one aspect of wildlife, you soon get attracted to the wider spectrum of wildlife,’ he says.’
      • ‘We in our laboratories at CDC use a wide spectrum of tests.’
      • ‘Polycystic ovarian diseases have a wide spectrum of symptoms.’
      range, gamut, sweep, scope, span
      View synonyms



/ˈspektrəm/ /ˈspɛktrəm/


    on the spectrum
    • 1Diagnosed with or having the characteristics of an autistic spectrum disorder.

      1. 1.1often offensive Displaying traits such as awkwardness in social situations, restricted interests, or repetitive patterns of behavior.


Early 17th century (in the sense ‘specter’): from Latin, literally ‘image, apparition’, from specere ‘to look’.