Definition of speculum in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈspɛkjʊləm/

noun (plural specula /ˈspɛkjʊlə/)

1 Medicine A metal instrument that is used to dilate an orifice or canal in the body to allow inspection.
Example sentences
  • An instrument called a speculum, the same as used for a smear test, is sometimes used.
  • Your eyelids will be opened up using a small instrument called a speculum.
  • With the headlight and speculum the external auditory canal is inspected and cleared of any obstructing wax or debris.
2 Ornithology A bright patch of plumage on the wings of certain birds, especially a strip of metallic sheen on the secondary flight feathers of many ducks.
Example sentences
  • The latter is important because dabbling ducks have a coloured area in the wing called the speculum.
  • Both sexes have orange feet and a blue speculum, or wing-patch, bordered in white on two sides, best seen in flight.
  • Both sexes have a black and white wing-patch, or speculum, that is distinctive in flight.
3A mirror or reflector of glass or metal, especially (formerly) a metallic mirror in a reflecting telescope.
Example sentences
  • This work of light allows us to see the shapes of the world reflected on the optical speculum.
  • A headlamp or head mirror and a nasal speculum should be used for optimal visualization.
  • If light ‘sees,’ then the speculum which reflects this seeing light can analogically participate in the solar vision that it reflects; it can derive from it its own vision.
3.1 short for speculum metal.
Example sentences
  • He made his mirrors from speculum metal - four parts copper to one part tin - but had to construct a forge to melt the speculum and cast the disc from which the mirror could be ground.


Late Middle English: from Latin, literally 'mirror', from specere 'to look'.

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