Also found in: Thesaurus, Acronyms, Idioms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.


1. A ghostly apparition; a phantom.
2. A haunting or disturbing image or prospect: the terrible specter of nuclear war.

[French spectre, from Latin spectrum, appearance, apparition; see spectrum.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


(ˈspɛk tər)

1. a visible incorporeal spirit, esp. one of a terrifying nature; ghost; phantom; apparition.
2. some object or source of terror or dread: the specter of disease.
Also, esp. Brit., spectre.
[1595–1605; < Latin spectrum; see spectrum]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.specter - a mental representation of some haunting experiencespecter - a mental representation of some haunting experience; "he looked like he had seen a ghost"; "it aroused specters from his past"
fantasm, phantasm, phantasma, phantom, shadow, apparition - something existing in perception only; "a ghostly apparition at midnight"
2.specter - a ghostly appearing figurespecter - a ghostly appearing figure; "we were unprepared for the apparition that confronted us"
disembodied spirit, spirit - any incorporeal supernatural being that can become visible (or audible) to human beings
Flying Dutchman - the captain of a phantom ship (the Flying Dutchman) who was condemned to sail against the wind until Judgment Day
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


A supernatural being, such as a ghost:
Informal: spook.
Regional: haunt.
The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
Lecount listened to her description of the specter's costume, the specter's hurry on the stairs, and the specter's disappearance in the bedroom; the extraordinary interest which Mrs.
As time went on, the people of the region became sorely distressed about the Specter of the Haunted Cave.
Tormented, in the hall, with difficulties and obstacles, I remember sinking down at the foot of the staircase--suddenly collapsing there on the lowest step and then, with a revulsion, recalling that it was exactly where more than a month before, in the darkness of night and just so bowed with evil things, I had seen the specter of the most horrible of women.
Afterward, when he saw the despair of his family, and reckoned up the money he had spent, the tears came into his eyes, and he began the long battle with the specter.
Dark Specter 2 is the story of an unknown supervillain who seeks global infamy.
On Wednesday, "Specter of Torment" became available for purchase on (http://store.steampowered.com/app/589510/) Steam .
Specter was born in Kansas but he moved to Pennsylvania to attend the University of Pennsylvania and from that day forth, he remained a son of the Keystone State.
Derrida invokes the metaphor of a specter (or specters) to embody those things which are always there and always waiting to come (or come back).
Specter is an American Jewish senator from the state of Pennsylvania who last year switched from the Republican to the Democratic party.
The article's author then adds: "In that case, I've got the perfect man for the job; Arlen Specter."
Specter had the backing of President Obama and the Democratic Party establishment, despite Specter's nearly 30 years as a Republican Senator.
Arlen Specter in Tuesday's Democratic primary in Pennsylvania is the surest sign of trouble for incumbents.