November 08, 2012
spectrum (noun)
\SPEK-trum\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 a : the group of different colors including red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet arranged in the order of their wavelengths and seen when white light passes through a prism and falls on a surface or when sunlight is scattered by water droplets to form a rainbow b : electromagnetic spectrum2 : a continuous range or series
How do you use it?
The two ideas seemed to come from opposite ends of the spectrum.
Are you a word wiz?

One of the words below shares an ancestor with today's Buzzword. Which word do you think comes from the same root as "spectrum"?

If you expected the answer to be B, you are right. Both "spectrum" and "expect" stem from the Latin root word "specere." "Specere" means "to look" and many English words that trace to "specere" have something to do with looking or seeing. For example, when "spectrum" entered English, it referred to a visible spirit—in other words, a ghost. And "expect" means "to look forward to." If we look at other "specere" relatives, we see the same pattern. "Conspicuous" ("easily seen"), "inspect" ("to examine closely"), and "spectacle" ("an unusual or impressive public display") are all descendants of "specere."
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