Common Senses: Specere

Specere means "to look" in Latin. To develop your insights, see videre, opsis
Here are links to more sensory stimulation: pathos, sentire, tangere, phone, audire, sonare
Read more...

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. inspect
    come to see in an official or professional capacity
    "Sometimes they came to inspect the mine, but they just came to the entrance, they never went down to see where we work."BBC (May 17, 2014)
    in (into) + specere (to look)
    According to the example sentence, the officials looked into the mine from the entrance, but they did not inspect it in a deep, detailed, or careful way.
  2. circumspect
    careful to consider potential consequences and avoid risk
    Modern justices and judges tend to be more circumspect, yet the true springs of decision peep through the underbrush of the modern opinion.Slate (Jun 21, 2013)
    circum (around) + specere (to look)
    The adjective usually applies to people who are looking carefully around their immediate surroundings in order to avoid possible dangers. But here the focus is on Supreme Court judges whose decisions cannot cost them their jobs; thus, the adjective describes their concern about long-term consequences for the country and their legacies.
  3. disrespect
    show a lack of regard for
    They disrespect you, they look down on you.The Guardian (Jan 4, 2013)
    dis (do the opposite of) + re (back) + specere (to look)
    The example sentence focuses on looking down, but the breakdown of the word suggests that not looking back at someone who's looking at you is also disrespectful. The eyes of your face show how much face you're willing to give someone else.
  4. retrospect
    contemplation of things past
    The source of the mistake looks clear in retrospect.Time (May 8, 2014)
    retro (back) + specere (to look)
    The word can also be used as a verb, but it is more often used as a noun as part of the prepositional phrase "in retrospect."
  5. suspect
    regard as untrustworthy
    It’s a false choice, a morally suspect scene in which you’re asked to identify with your all-too-human victim before ending his existence.Time (May 20, 2014)
    sub (from below) + specere (to look)
    The definition is for the word as a verb, but it can also be a noun, and in the example sentence, it is used as an adjective to describe a morally untrustworthy scene in a video game. If you don't suspect the scene is suspect, then you must, to continue the game, become a suspect in the murder of a family man who is also a Nazi commander.
  6. introspective
    given to examining own sensory and perceptual experiences
    I think having a kid and seeing how the world works from that angle, you’re a little more thoughtful and introspective.New York Times (Dec 23, 2013)
    intro (inward) + specere (to look) + ive (suffix forming adjectives from verbs)
    As the example sentence suggests, being introspective is not the same as being introverted: although both qualities connect to an inward movement, introspective people look inward after having looked outward, which can result in them being more thoughtful towards others, while introverted people turn inward because they're focused on themselves.
  7. perspective
    a way of regarding situations or topics
    Humor helps us see our life from a new perspective and it also allows us to come up with creative solutions to our problems.Forbes (May 22, 2014)
    per (through) + specere (to look) + ive (suffix forming adjectives)
    The breakdown of the word suggests that it can be used as an adjective: it used to describe things that were helpful for vision, and now it can describe types of drawings. But despite looking like an adjective, "perspective" is mostly used as a noun to refer to a way of looking at the world.
  8. prospective
    of or concerned with or related to the future
    Builders' outlook for sales of single-family homes over the next six months and traffic by prospective buyers each increased since April.Seattle Times (May 15, 2014)
    pro (forward) + specere (to look) + ive (suffix forming adjectives)
    To interest a prospective buyer, builders might provide a prospectus with information about their business and what a new homeowner can look forward to.
  9. specimen
    an example regarded as typical of its class
    With only two specimens and a small number of sightings, little is known about this enigmatic species, which has not been seen since 1998.BBC (Apr 10, 2014)
    In Latin, "specimen" means "indication, mark, example, sign, evidence; that by which a thing is known, means of knowing." This is directly related to "specere" and also connected to "species": specimens of species are often inspected to see what characteristics they have. A specimen can also be a bit of tissue or fluid that's inspected to see what might be happening in the entire body.
  10. specious
    plausible but false
    I can only conclude that this reasoning is specious at best, for none can see the future of paths we do not take.Newsweek (Sep 10, 2013)
    specere (to look) + ous (suffix forming adjectives)
    "Specious" also means "deceptively pleasing"--both definitions connect to the idea of sight as an unreliable sense, since its focus is on appearance, which can prevent one from looking more deeply.
  11. speculate
    talk over conjecturally, or review in an idle or casual way
    If I had to guess, I’d speculate that it’s what other people would see if they wore sunglasses at night.New York Times (Apr 26, 2014)
    "Speculatus" is the past participle of the verb "speculari" (to observe) which comes from "specere" (to look). The word is a contranym because it is its own antonym: a person who speculates on a topic can look at it either casually or deeply. In business, speculators make risky investments because their eyes are on possible quick profits.
  12. spectacle
    something or someone seen, especially a notable sight
    What I had before me was a spectacle of wind and water, an earthquake of the senses, that even Hollywood couldn’t orchestrate.Life of Pi
    "Spectare" (to view) is the frequentative form of "specere" (to look)--this means that the former indicates repeated action, while the latter refers to an instance of looking. Because a spectacle is often elaborate and lavish, there would be many sights for your eyes to look at. On a smaller, more personal scale, a spectacle could be an embarrassing display that makes you look ridiculous.
  13. conspicuous
    obvious to the eye or mind
    This means that it is impossible for such a conspicuous jellyfish with large population numbers to have remained unnoticed until now.Scientific American (May 15, 2014)
    com (prefix used to add force or emphasis) + specere (to look) + ous (suffix forming adjectives)
    Unlike the jellyfish described here, humans who are conspicuous are usually noticed because they want to stand out. This is evident in the many sightings of the phrase "conspicuous consumption."
  14. perspicacious
    acutely insightful and wise
    It is a mirror of two eyes; they are clear, shrewd, perspicacious, and bold; they are the eyes of a Frenchman.Rolland, Romain
    per (through) + specere (to look) + acious (suffix forming adjectives)
    "Perspicacious" comes from "perspective"--compare the breakdowns of the two words. The idea of looking through is more connected to being sharply insightful. "Per" can also be a prefix that's used to add force or emphasis, and this would be more connected to a way of looking at the world.
  15. auspicious
    indicating favorable circumstances and good luck
    Instead of looking to auspicious dates, Jamaicans should take steps to make sure they are well prepared for a disaster, he said.BBC (Jan 22, 2014)
    avis (bird) + specere (to look) + ous (suffix forming adjectives)
    This word traces back to the Roman practice of looking at the flights, singing, feeding, or internal organs of birds to figure out what the gods were telling them about future events.

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.