• WordNet 3.6
    • n spectacle a blunder that makes you look ridiculous; used in the phrase `make a spectacle of' yourself
    • n spectacle an elaborate and remarkable display on a lavish scale
    • n spectacle something or someone seen (especially a notable or unusual sight) "the tragic spectacle of cripples trying to escape"
    • ***
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: Benjamin Franklin had poor vision and needed glasses to read. He got tired of constantly taking them off and putting them back on, so he decided to figure out a way to make his glasses let him see both near and far. He had two pairs of spectacles cut in half and put half of each lens in a single frame. Today, we call them bifocals.
    • Spectacle A spy-glass; a looking-glass. "Poverty a spectacle is, as thinketh me,
      Through which he may his very friends see."
    • Spectacle An optical instrument consisting of two lenses set in a light frame, and worn to assist sight, to obviate some defect in the organs of vision, or to shield the eyes from bright light.
    • Spectacle Fig.: An aid to the intellectual sight. "Shakespeare . . . needed not the spectacles of books to read nature."
    • Spectacle Something exhibited to view; usually, something presented to view as extraordinary, or as unusual and worthy of special notice; a remarkable or noteworthy sight; a show; a pageant; a gazingstock. "O, piteous spectacle ? O, bloody times!"
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n spectacle An exhibition; exposure to sight or view; an open display; also, a thing looked at or to be looked at; a sight; a gazing-stock; a show; especially, a deplorable exhibition.
    • n spectacle Specifically, a public show or display for the gratification of the eye; something designed or arranged to attract and entertain spectators; a pageant; a parade: as, a royal or a religious spectacle; a military or a dramatic spectacle.
    • n spectacle A looking-glass; a mirror.
    • n spectacle A spyglass; a speculum.
    • n spectacle plural A pair of lenses set in a frame adjusted to the eyes, to correct or improve defective vision; also, sometimes, a similar frame with pieces of plain white or colored glass to protect the eyes from glare or dust: commonly called a pair of spectacles. The frame was in former times usually of horn or tortoise-shell, and afterward of silver; it is now usually of steel or of gold. It is made up of the “bridge,” “rims” (or frames of the lenses), “bows,” and “sides” or “temples”; but the bows are now often omitted. The frame is so constructed and adjusted as to rest on the nose and ears and hold the lenses in the proper position. Spectacles which are supported on the nose only, by means of a spring, are commonly called eye-glasses. Spectacles with convex lenses are for the aged, or far-sighted; and spectacles with concave lenses are for the near-sighted. In both cases the value of spectacles depends upon their being accurately adapted to the person's vision. Spectacles with colored lenses, as green, blue, neutral-tint, or smoke-color, are used to protect the eyes from a glare of light. Divided spectacles have each lens composed of two parts of different foci neatly united, one part for observing distant objects, and the other for examining objects near the eye. Another kind, called periscopic spectacles, are intended to allow the eyes considerable latitude of motion without fatigue. The lenses employed in this case are of either a meniscus or a concavo-convex form, the concave side being turned to the eye. Spectacles with glazed wings or frames partly filled with crape or wire gauze are used to shield the eyes from dust, etc.
    • n spectacle plural Figuratively, visual aids of any kind, physical or mental; instruments of or assistance in seeing or understanding; also, instruments or means of seeing or understanding otherwise than by natural or normal vision or perception: as, rose-colored spectacles; I cannot see things with your spectacles.
    • n spectacle plural In zoology, a marking resembling a pair of spectacles, especially about the eyes: as, the spectacles of the cobra. See cut under cobra-de-capello.
    • n spectacle A form of spectacles having in each bow two half glasses differing in power or character; divided spectacles. See def. 5.
    • n spectacle plural Signal-glasses of varying color, held in a metal frame suggesting spectacles, to be moved in front of the lenses of signal-lights at night: usually of red and green if there are two. Also used, in the singular, for one frame with its colored glass.
    • n spectacle A frame with two bow-shaped handles for carrying well-boring tools.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Spectacle spek′ta-kl a sight: show, a pageant, exhibition:
    • n Spectacle spek′ta-kl (pl.) a pair of lenses mounted in frames to assist the sight, aids to mental vision: a marking resembling spectacles, as in the cobra
    • ***


  • Thomas De Quincey
    Thomas De Quincey
    “Call for the grandest of all earthly spectacles, what is that? It is the sun going to his rest.”
  • Thomas Wolfe
    “There is no spectacle on earth more appealing than that of a beautiful woman in the act of cooking dinner for someone she loves.”
  • Walter Bagehot
    “An ambassador is not simply an agent; he is also a spectacle.”
  • Josh Billings
    “If you ever find happiness by hunting for it, you will find it as the old woman did her lost spectacles. Safe on her own nose all the time.”
  • George Santayana
    “Life is not a spectacle or a feast; it is a predicament.”
  • Thomas B. Macaulay
    “We know no spectacle so ridiculous as the British public in one of its periodical fits of morality.”


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
F., fr. L. spectaculum, fr. spectare, to look at, to behold, v. intens. fr. specere,. See Spy
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
L. spectaculumspectāre, -ātum, intens. of specĕre, to look at.


In literature:

So grand a spectacle had never been witnessed on this continent before.
"Three Years in the Sixth Corps" by George T. Stevens
He opened the case and putting on the spectacles looked at the dove.
"The Enchanted Island" by Fannie Louise Apjohn
Boreal nature, in its struggle with the frost, presented a splendid spectacle.
"The English at the North Pole" by Jules Verne
We enjoyed this truly enchanting spectacle till we arrived at Tours.
"Perils and Captivity" by Charlotte-Adélaïde [née Picard] Dard
An' you'll wear spectacles, and have lines round your eyes.
"The Lady of the Basement Flat" by Mrs. George de Horne Vaizey
A spectacle far more fearful than any ever witnessed upon battle-field.
"The Death Shot" by Mayne Reid
To those regarding it from below it was a beautiful but terrible spectacle.
"The White Chief" by Mayne Reid
A fearful spectacle was before me.
"The Scalp Hunters" by Mayne Reid
Happily, the world was spared the spectacle of these deadly mouths at once aflame.
"Campaigns of a Non-Combatant," by George Alfred Townsend
Never such a spectacle was witnessed in this world of sin and sorrow since the creation of Adam.
"The Life of Mansie Wauch tailor in Dalkeith" by D. M. Moir

In poetry:

And, at the best, he is uplift
A spectacle, a show:—
The worth of such an outworn gift
I know too much to know!
"The Disciple" by George MacDonald
I seem to see the old tree stand,
Its sturdy, giant form
A spectacle remembered, and
A pilgrim-shrine for all the land
Before it met the storm.
"The Charter Oak" by Hattie Howard
One morn when this dear task was done,
And just as each the other crown'd,
Seeking deep, shade to 'scape the sun,
A piteous spectacle they found.
"The Stag" by William Hayley
Am I new-minted by Thy stamp indeed?
Mine eyes are dim; I cannot clearly see.
Be Thou my spectacles that I may read
Thine image do upon me stand,
I am a golden angel in Thy hand.
"Preparatory Meditations - First Series: 6." by Edward Taylor
I see no dread in death, no horror to abhor.
I never thought it else than but to cease to dwell
Spectator, and resolve most naturally once more
Into the dearly loved eternal spectacle.
"The Sultan's Palace" by Alan Seeger
Your locks are now as white as snow,
And you are ripe and wrinkled,
A grandmother ten times or so,
Yet how your blue eyes twinkled
At me above your spectacles,
Recalling naughty neck-tickles!
"Old Sweethearts" by Robert W Service

In news:

Unfortunately, the Leonids are not one of astronomy's bigger spectacles.
It was an amazing spectacle.
Dave Schwartz reflects on the changing nature of the Las Vegas spectacle.
"CHARLIE AND the Chocolate Factory" is a spectacle to be enjoyed, but only as such.
World's greatest wildlife spectacle jeopardized by plans to build road.
WASHINGTON — Think Muhammad Ali near the end of his legendary career getting pummeled by Larry Holmes, and there you have the sad spectacle Johan Santana has become.
Interesting spectacle or slow-moving disaster.
While it may not have been the spectacle over Ocean County that it was in New York City, lucky crowds got once in a lifetime glimpses of an American Icon.
Murder trial tainted by media spectacle next door.
I'm all about big spectacles when proposing, however this chubby little vigilantly is the worst spider man ever.
It is not the spectacle it might have been five years ago.
The city of Marquette and Downtown Development Authority will host a Halloween Spectacle event Saturday.
Conditions at Colorado Springs, CO. We're just days away now from the greatest sports spectacle.
Some say these spectacles are out of control but others ask, "why not".
Marco Brambilla's ' Creation ' spectacle at Christopher Grimes.

In science:

Upright vision through inverting spectacles [Film].
Combining Research Methods and Results from Psychology and Physics in the Investigation of Quantum Mechanics
You or I can dress like Gandhi, cut all the hair, wear spectacles, walk with a stick etc.
On Why and What of Randomness
Number of Instances: 24. Number of Attributes: 4; age, spectacle prescription, astigmatic and tear production rate.
RGANN: An Efficient Algorithm to Extract Rules from ANNs
Competitions demand a degree of spectacle in the selection of winners, but the more measured evaluation of planners takes time.
The 3rd International Planning Competition: Results and Analysis
For the year 2013 these correspond to 28 May (d = 147) and 14 July (d = 194). A more impressive visual spectacle than the alignment of the actual sunset with the east-west streets is the observation of the full solar disk in between the profiles of the buildings and slightly above the horizon.
The sun's position in the sky