a. A mark on a surface differing sharply in color from its surroundings.
b. A blemish, mark, or pimple on the skin.
c. A stain or blot.
a. A mark or pip on a playing card; a spade, club, diamond, or heart.
b. A playing card with a specified number of such marks on it indicating its value.
3. Informal A piece of paper money worth a specified number of dollars: a five spot.
a. A small area: a bald spot; an itchy spot.
b. A location or position: a good spot for catching fish.
c. A point of interest: There are a lot of spots to visit in the old city.
d. A position or an item in an ordered arrangement: the first spot in line.
e. Football The position of the ball for the line of scrimmage as determined by a referee after a play.
5. Informal A situation, especially a troublesome one.
6. A flaw in one's reputation or character: a dark spot in his past.
7. A short presentation or commercial on television or radio between major programs: a news spot.
8. Informal A spotlight.
9. pl. spot or spots A small croaker (Leiostomus xanthurus) of North American Atlantic waters, having a dark mark above each pectoral fin and valued as a food and game fish.
10. Chiefly British A small amount; a bit: a spot of tea.
v. spot·ted, spot·ting, spots
1. To cause a spot or spots to appear on, especially:
a. To soil with spots: Soot spotted the curtains.
b. To decorate with spots; dot.
2. To bring disgrace to; besmirch: rumors that spotted his reputation.
a. To place in a particular location; situate precisely: spotted their stores in smaller towns.
b. Football To position (the ball) determining the line of scrimmage after a play has been completed.
4. To detect or discern, especially visually; spy: spotted him on the subway.
5. To remove spots from, as in a laundry.
6. Sports To yield a favorable scoring margin to: spotted their opponents 11 points.
7. Sports To act as a spotter for (a gymnast, for example).
8. Informal To lend: Can you spot me $25 until payday?
1. To become marked with spots: These dishes spot easily.
2. To cause a discoloration or make a stain.
3. To locate targets from the air during combat or training missions.
1. Made, paid, or delivered immediately: a spot sale.
2. Of, relating to, or being a market in which payment or delivery is immediate: the spot market in oil.
3. Involving random or selective instances or actions: a spot investigation.
4. Presented between major radio or television programs: a spot announcement.
Now and then; here and there; occasionally.
on the spot
1. Without delay; at once.
2. At the scene of action.
3. Under pressure or attention; in a pressed position.
[Middle English, from Old English.]
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.