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A.Word.A.Day--spectral

Pronunciation Sound Clip RealAudio

This week's theme: words related to the eyes.

spectral (SPEK-truhl) adjective

1. Pertaining to a light energy spectrum, usually the visible spectrum.

2. Pertaining to a ghost, wraith, or apparition.

[From Latin spectrum (appearance), from Latin specere (to look at).]

See more usage examples of spectral in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

The visible spectrum of light is a range of energy from an incandescent source, measured in wavelengths, from red to violet. That oft-memorized acronymic fellow ROY G BIV reminds us that the colors of the visible spectrum, from longest wavelength to shortest wavelength, are Red - Orange - Yellow - Green - Blue - Indigo - and Violet.

To be sure, there is an ultraviolet spectrum and an infrared spectrum, but the visible light that we see, as refracted through a prism, are the colors mentioned in the acronym. The appearance or apparition of a ghost gives us the lay term "spectral" as an adjective describing a wraith or a ghost. One therefore has to wonder: at what wavelength do ghosts reside?

-Guest wordsmith Vincent de Luise, MD (eyemusic73ATaol.com)

"Josh is an adult gripped by broken women, the memory of his dead mother, the spectral presence of his living-dead father and the oddity of messianic Judaism." Tod Goldberg; A Shipwrecked Life; The Los Angeles Times; Mar 26, 2006.

X-Bonus

Ink is handicapped, in a way, because you can blow up a man with gunpowder in half a second, while it may take twenty years to blow him up with a book. But the gunpowder destroys itself along with its victim, while a book can keep on exploding for centuries. -Christopher Morley, writer (1890-1957)

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