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[spek-truh l] /ˈspɛk trəl/
of or relating to a specter; ghostly; phantom.
resembling or suggesting a specter.
of, relating to, or produced by a spectrum or spectra.
resembling or suggesting a spectrum or spectra.
Origin of spectral
1710-20; < Latin spectr(um) (see specter) + -al1
Related forms
spectrality, spectralness, noun
spectrally, adverb
nonspectral, adjective
nonspectrally, adverb
nonspectrality, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for spectral
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The shepherd who passed him looked gray and spectral in the lurid light.

    Debit and Credit Gustav Freytag
  • Their spectral indices may however be determined, as will be seen later.

    Lectures on Stellar Statistics Carl Vilhelm Ludvig Charlier
  • Page 647, "spectral arrray of" was changed to read "spectral array of."

  • Everything in the prison yard was dim and gray and spectral.

  • That spectral kiss placed on her forehead, which had brought such solace to her as she lay in misery and loneliness, haunted her.

    Meg's Friend Alice Abigail Corkran
  • Louise had risen to her feet—a long black figure with a spectral face.

    The Outrage Annie Vivanti
  • They then proceeded onwards—passed the haunted spot—without either hearing or seeing the spectral drummer.

    Willy Reilly William Carleton
  • These that we see are revenants come to look at spectral homes.

    The Challenge of the Dead Stephen Graham
  • Each metal has its own number, position, grouping, and color of these spectral lines.

    Curiosities of Heat Lyman B. Tefft
British Dictionary definitions for spectral


of or like a spectre
of or relating to a spectrum: spectral colours
(physics) (of a physical quantity) relating to a single wavelength of radiation: spectral luminous efficiency
Derived Forms
spectrality (spɛkˈtrælɪtɪ), spectralness, noun
spectrally, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for spectral

1718, "capable of seeing spectres;" 1815, "ghostly;" from spectre + -al (1). Meaning "pertaining to a spectrum" is 1832, from stem of spectrum + -al (1).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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spectral in Medicine

spectral spec·tral (spěk'trəl)
Of, relating to, or produced by a spectrum.

spec·tral'i·ty (-trāl'ĭ-tē) or spec'tral·ness (-trəl-nĭs) n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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