see, observe, look, watch over

Quick Summary

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!

Spectacles Make the World Conspicuous!

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!

  1. spectator: one who “sees” an event
  2. expect: a waiting to “see”
  3. spectacular: impressive enough to be worthy of “seeing”
  4. spectacle: something which is “seen,” such as a public event or show
  5. spectacles: glasses which allow wearers to “see” better
  6. specter: a ghost or phantom which appears to someone, allowing itself to be “seen”
  7. inspector: one who “sees” or “looks” into something
  8. inspect: to comprehensively “see” something or “look” into it carefully
  9. suspect: one “seen” or “viewed” with mistrust
  10. perspective: the way in which a person “sees” through or interprets the world
  11. respect: to “see” someone in a good way
  12. conspicuous: very easy to “see”
  13. despicable: of an act that should not be “seen”
  14. suspicious: of being “seen” with mistrust
  15. perspicacious: of very clearly “seeing”
  16. spectate: to “see” something happening, such as a sporting event
  17. speculate: to “see” something in a certain way that may or may not be factual


  • retrospect

    When you consider something in retrospect, you look back on or think about what happened in the past with the advantage of knowing more now than you did then.

  • introspective

    If someone is introspective, they spend a lot of time examining their own feelings, thoughts, or ideas.

  • circumspect

    If you are circumspect, you are cautious; you think carefully about something before saying or doing it.

  • spectrum

    A spectrum is a range or scope of something, such as all the colors of visible light or all the different kinds of art.

  • respect

    When you have respect for someone, you value that person highly or believe in them; thus, you treat them in a fair and kind way.

  • inspect

    When you inspect something, you look at it closely to find out something about it.

  • aspect

    a distinct feature or element in a problem

  • circumspection

    knowing how to avoid embarrassment or distress

  • conspectus

    an overall summary

  • inspection

    a formal or official examination

  • introspection

    the contemplation of your own thoughts and desires and conduct

  • irrespective

    in spite of everything

  • perspective

    a way of regarding situations or topics etc.

  • prospect

    search for something desirable

  • prospective

    of or concerned with or related to the future

  • prospectus

    a formal written offer to sell securities (filed with the SEC) that sets forth a plan for a (proposed) business enterprise

  • respectable

    characterized by socially or conventionally acceptable morals

  • respectful

    full of or exhibiting respect

  • retrospective

    concerned with or related to the past

  • spectacle

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

  • spectacular

    sensational in appearance or thrilling in effect

  • spectator

    a close observer

  • specter

    a mental representation of some haunting experience

  • spectral

    of or relating to a spectrum

  • suspect

    not as expected

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