|spect||→||see, observe, look, watch over|
|-um||→||forms a singular Latin noun|
A spectrum is all the things that can be “seen” or “looked at” concerning a certain area, such as all the colors of visible light available in the world.
The Latin root word spect and its variant spic both mean “see.” These roots are the word origin of a fair number of English vocabulary words, including spectator, respect, auspicious and suspicion. The root spect is easily recalled through the word spectacles, whose function is giving you the ability to “see,” and spic is conspicuous, or easily “seen” through, yes, conspicuous!
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The Latin root word spect and its variant spic both mean “see.” Today you will “see” just how conspicuous these two roots are in the English language, especially when you use your spectacles to do so!
Let’s begin with the root spect, which means “see.” Spectators, or those who “see” something, such as a sporting event, often expect or wait to “see” something spectacular, or worthy of being “seen.” As these spectators watch a sporting spectacle, they are often aided by spectacles, or glasses which allow them to “see.” What a spectacle it would be to catch “sight” of a specter, or a ghost which appears or is “seen!”
Imagine a crime scene in which something very puzzling happened. A police inspector might be sent to inspect or try to “see” what happened. The inspector might come up with a suspect, or someone she “sees” or “views” with mistrust. If the detective’s perspective, or the way she “sees” things is close to the truth, she will likely solve the crime.
If you really respect someone you “see” her or him in a positive light. When Aretha Franklin asked for respect in her hit song, she was asking to be looked upon more favorably.
Not only does the root spect mean “see,” but its variant spic does as well. Imagine someone in a large crowd is wearing stilts and a three-foot tall yellow hat—now that would be conspicuous, or easy to “see.” A despicable person, or one who does things that shouldn’t be “seen,” might shoot an arrow through that hat. If the archer was not seen in the act of shooting, people nevertheless might be suspicious if he were seen carrying around a bow, “seeing” it with mistrust. Someone who “sees” very clearly, or in a perspicacious way, might think to link the arrow which pierced the hat with the archer’s quiver full of arrows, thereby matching the archer to the crime!
You have certainly “seen” enough about spect and have been offered some of the verbal span of spic. You can now spectate away with more comfort in the wild word wood of English instead of merely speculating upon meanings of words you “see” each and every day!