If you see a deathly apparition from beyond the grave, what should you call it? There are several options, including ghost, spirit, apparition, specter, and spectre.
Are specter and spectre the same word, though? These otherworldly beings are notorious for being stubborn and unpleasant, so you may not want to risk getting on one’s bad side by calling it a name it doesn’t like.
In reality, specter and spectre are two versions of the same word. Each version is used in a different language community. To learn more about when to use each spelling, continue reading.
What is the Difference Between Specter and Spectre?
In this post, I will compare specter vs. spectre. I will use each of these words in at least one example sentence, so you can see them in context.
Plus, I will show you a helpful memory tool that will allows you to more easily choose either specter or spectre.
When to Use Specter
What does specter mean? Specter is a noun. A specter is a ghost or ghostlike apparition. A specter often portends something unfortunate. The word is also used figuratively as a metaphor for something else: the specter of bankruptcy is a florid way to say impending bankruptcy, for instance.
Here are a few examples of specter in a sentence,
Specter is essentially another word for ghost in everyday usage. One important difference is that a ghost typically serves as a reminder of something that happened in the past, while a specter portends something that will happen in the future.
When to Use Spectre
What does spectre mean? Spectre is a spelling variation of the same word. Spectre is the predominant spelling in British English, while American writers generally prefer specter. Both words are nouns that mean a ghost or ghostlike apparition.
As you can see from the charts below, which chart spectre vs. specter in English books since 1800, the preference for spectre and specter in British and American English, respectively, is quite pronounced.
These charts aren’t 100 percent exhaustive in their scope, obviously, since they only look at books (not magazine or newspapers) published in English since 1800. Still, they clearly illustrate the spelling preferences for this noun in different language communities.
Trick to Remember the Difference
Specter and spectre are the same word. Which spelling you use depends on your intended audience.
Both words rhyme with the masculine name Hector when pronounced aloud.
Spectre might seem overly affected to American audiences, while specter could strike British audiences as simplistic or uncultured. Thus, it is important to remember which word to use when.
Since spectre ends in an E, which is the same letter that can be found at the beginning of England, pairing spectre with British English should be a simple task.
Is it spectre or specter? Specter and spectre are spelling variants of a noun that means a ghost or ghostlike apparition.
In other respects, the words are identical.G 9First Read: ComprehensionIdentify the choice that best answers the question.____1.According to “The Nuclear Tourist,” why do some people come back to the Chernobyl area to live?a.They want to return home despite the danger.b.They find the possibility of danger to be a thrill.c.They want to live in an area with few other people.d.They don’t believe the radiation levels can harm them.
This shows grade level based on the word's complexity. / ˈspɛk tər / a visible incorporeal spirit, especially one of a terrifying nature; ghost; phantom; apparition. some object or source of terror or dread: the specter of disease or famine.
This shows grade level based on the word's complexity.
/ ˈspɛk tər /
a visible incorporeal spirit, especially one of a terrifying nature; ghost; phantom; apparition.
some object or source of terror or dread: the specter of disease or famine.
See synonyms for specter on Thesaurus.com
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Also especially British, spec·tre .
First recorded 1595–1605; from Latin spectrum “appearance, form”; see spectrum
spectacular, spectate, spectator, spectator pump, spectator sport, specter, spectinomycin, Spector, spectra, spectral, spectral line
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022
demon, shadow, apparition, appearance, phantasm, phantom, poltergeist, presence, spirit, spook, vision
WORD OF THE DAYcistvaennoun | [kist-vahyn ]SEE DEFINITION
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