A spectacle is something you can't believe you are seeing. Get on top of your desk at work in your underpants while playing the kazoo and you're making a spectacle of yourself.

The word spectacle comes from the Latin spectaculum meaning "public show," an apt translation because a spectacle, like a public show, is something worth watching. A ballet is a spectacle, or an elaborate production worth watching. Often the word is used to describe something that has a particularly exciting visual element to it — like an acrobatic display or a magic trick. It's something you have to see to really appreciate.

Definitions of spectacle

n something or someone seen (especially a notable or unusual sight)

“the tragic spectacle of cripples trying to escape”
Type of:
anything that is seen

n an elaborate and remarkable display on a lavish scale

bullfight, corrida
a Spanish or Portuguese or Latin American spectacle; a matador baits and (usually) kills a bull in an arena before many spectators
naumachia, naumachy
a naval spectacle; a mock sea battle put on by the ancient Romans
a bullfight in which the bulls are less than four years old
Type of:
display, presentation
a visual representation of something

n a blunder that makes you look ridiculous; used in the phrase `make a spectacle of' yourself

Type of:
bloomer, blooper, blunder, boo-boo, botch, bungle, flub, foul-up, pratfall
an embarrassing mistake

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