a. Something that can be seen or viewed, especially something of a remarkable or impressive nature.
b. A public performance or display, especially one on a large or lavish scale.
c. A regrettable public display, as of bad behavior: drank too much and made a spectacle of himself.
a. A pair of eyeglasses.
b. Something resembling eyeglasses in shape or suggesting them in function.
[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin spectāculum, from spectāre, to watch, frequentative of specere, to look at; see spek- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.