Pronunciation: (spek'trum), [key]
—pl. -traPronunciation: (-tru), [key] -trums.
a. an array of entities, as light waves or particles, ordered in accordance with the magnitudes of a common physical property, as wavelength or mass: often the band of colors produced when sunlight is passed through a prism, comprising red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.
b. this band or series of colors together with extensions at the ends that are not visible to the eye, but that can be studied by means of photography, heat effects, etc., and that are produced by the dispersion of radiant energy other than ordinary light rays. Cf. band spectrum, electromagnetic spectrum, mass spectrum.
2. a broad range of varied but related ideas or objects, the individual features of which tend to overlap so as to form a continuous series or sequence: the spectrum of political beliefs.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.