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From Latin spectāculum. Doublet of spectacle.


spectaculum (plural spectaculums)

  1. (archaic, rare) A spectacle.
    • 1816 December, “Fragmenta. Being Thoughts, Observations, Reflections, and Criticisms, with Anecdotes and Characters Ancient and Modern. No. XVI.”, in The European Magazine, and London Review, [], volume 70, London: [] James Asperne, [], page 508, column 1:
      A dream put Aristotle out of breath, / A meteor he said, ’twixt life and death. “An quid fit frustra? An datur vacuum? Fill the pot, Edy! Supernaculum.” A blazing star’s a rare spectaculum!
    • 1825 September 3, “[The Drama.] Park Theatre.”, in George P[ope] Morris, editor, The New-York Mirror, and Ladies’ Literary Gazette; [], volume III, number 6, New York, N.Y.: [] [F]or the Proprietor, by Daniel Fanshaw, [], published 1826, page 47, column 1:
      So many amusements have sprung up of late, Theatres, Museums, Spectaculums, Circuses, Castle Gardens, Waxfigures, and Balloons, that we can scarcely find time to devote to one as often as its proprietor could wish, and the public munificence is consequently so dissipated among the multitude, that individual establishments stand but poor chance of success.
    • 1853, Cornelius Mathews, “Seeing the Bear Dance and Other Street Entertainments”, in A Pen-and-Ink Panorama of New-York City, New York, N.Y.: John S. Taylor, [], pages 159–160:
      We have a surprising growth of street spectacles in the great thoroughfares; out-of-door shows of a more ambitious character—small theatres and spectaculums.
    • 1853 April, Rory Oge, “Getting on in Ireland”, in The Dublin University Magazine, a Literary and Political Journal, volume XLI, number CCXLIV, Dublin: James McGlashan, []. W[illia]m S[omerville] Orr and Company, London, page 476, column 2:
      A stage coach was then “a rare spectaculum,” being only found on the grand thoroughfares and leading arteries of the kingdom.
    • 1880 September 10, “Southern Campaign Literature”, in Portland Daily Press, volume 18, Portland, Me., page [2], column 2:
      Jefferson Davis in manacles at Fortress Monroe, a spectaculum to heaven and earth did no more prove that his governmental theories were false and his practices treasonable, than did Jesus Christ, “lifted up” on Calvary, with “the crown of thorns” upon his sacred head, the rugged nails in his hands and feet, by which he was secured to the cross of crucifixion, between two thieves, and in the midst of his jeering enemies, prove that “the gates of hell” had prevaileded[sic] against the councils of the Eternal Father, and the devil is the lawful sovereign of the universe!
    • 1893 March, M. Geoghegan, “Our Confraternities: How Are They to Be Worked Efficiently?”, in The Irish Ecclesiastical Record: A Monthly Journal, under Episcopal Sanction, third series, volume XIV, Dublin: Browne & Nolan, [], page 245:
      From all which it is evident that the confraternity retreat ought to be confined to the confraternity itself; for if the general public be allowed, the preceding remarks cannot be made without turning it into a spectaculum, and a gossiping material for the whole parish.
    • 1903 July 22, Visitor [pseudonym], “Antioch Church”, in The Evergreen Courant, volume 8, number 43, Evergreen, Ala., page [3], column 4:
      It was a spectaculum to behold the old lady stepping up to the creek alongside and supported by the aged pastor to be submerged.
    • 1960 March 30, “Latin, French Clubs Hold Banquet At Berne Union”, in The Logan Daily News, one hundred and twenty-seventh year, number 76, Logan, Oh., page 2, column 8:
      The Roman part of the program was a spectaculum revealing the Delphic oracle, portrayed by Sandra Weaver, answering questions in rhyme which were asked by prominent Romans.
    • 1981 July 15, Daily American Republic, volume 106, number 151, Poplar Bluff, Mo., page 2A:
      A Wet Spectaculum / Dressed-up with costumes from medieval times, two participants of a traditional festival jet over their boats into the deep waters of the Danube River at Ulm, West Germany recently.


Alternative forms[edit]


From spectō (I watch, observe, look at, see) +‎ -culum.


spectāculum n (genitive spectāculī); second declension

  1. show, spectacle
  2. a place from which shows are witnessed, spectator's seat
  3. public or civic event


Second-declension noun (neuter).

Case Singular Plural
Nominative spectāculum spectācula
Genitive spectāculī spectāculōrum
Dative spectāculō spectāculīs
Accusative spectāculum spectācula
Ablative spectāculō spectāculīs
Vocative spectāculum spectācula



  • spectaculum”, in Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short (1879) A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • spectaculum”, in Charlton T. Lewis (1891) An Elementary Latin Dictionary, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • spectaculum in Gaffiot, Félix (1934) Dictionnaire illustré latin-français, Hachette.
  • spectaculum in Ramminger, Johann (2016 July 16 (last accessed)) Neulateinische Wortliste: Ein Wörterbuch des Lateinischen von Petrarca bis 1700[1], pre-publication website, 2005-2016