1. a rounded mark or stain made by foreign matter, as mud, blood, paint, ink, etc.; a blot or speck.
  2. something that mars one’s character or reputation; blemish; flaw.
  3. a small blemish, mole, or lesion on the skin or other surface.
  4. a small, circumscribed mark caused by disease, allergic reaction, decay, etc.
  5. a comparatively small, usually roundish, part of a surface differing from the rest in color, texture, character, etc.: a bald spot.
  6. a place or locality: A monument marks the spot where Washington slept.
  7. Usually spots. places of entertainment or sightseeing interest: We went to a few spots to dance and see the floor shows.
  8. spot announcement.
  9. a specific position in a sequence or hierarchy: The choral group has the second spot on the program, right after the dancers. He moved up from second spot to become president of the firm.
  10. Cards.
    1. one of various traditional, geometric drawings of a club, diamond, heart, or spade on a playing card for indicating suit and value.
    2. any playing card from a two through a ten: He drew a jack, a queen, and a three spot.
  11. a pip, as on dice or dominoes.
  12. Slang. a piece of paper money, almost always indicated as a five- or ten-dollar bill: Can you loan me a five spot until payday?
  13. Also called spot illustration. a small drawing, usually black and white, appearing within or accompanying a text.
  14. Chiefly British Informal.
    1. a small quantity of anything.
    2. a drink: a spot of tea.
  15. a small croaker, Leiostomus xanthurus, of the eastern coast of the U.S., used as a food fish.
  16. spots, Informal. commodities, as grain, wool, and soybeans, sold for immediate delivery.
  17. spot price.
  18. Informal. spotlight(def 1).

verb (used with object), spot·ted, spot·ting.

  1. to stain or mark with spots: The grease spotted my dress.
  2. to remove a spot or spots from (clothing), especially before dry cleaning.
  3. to sully; blemish.
  4. to mark or diversify with spots or dots, as of color: We spotted the wall with blue paint.
  5. to detect or recognize; locate or identify by seeing: to spot a hiding child.
  6. to place or position on a particular place: to spot a billiard ball.
  7. to stop (a railroad car) at the exact place required.
  8. to scatter in various places: to spot chairs here and there in the room.
  9. Informal. spotlight(def 5).
  10. Military.
    1. to determine (a location) precisely on either the ground or a map.
    2. to observe (the results of gunfire at or near a target) for the purpose of correcting aim.
  11. Photography. to remove spots from (a negative or print) by covering with opaque color.
  12. Sports. to give or grant a certain margin or advantage to (an opponent): He spotted the tyro 12 points a game. The champion won, although spotting the challenger twenty pounds.
  13. (in gymnastics) to watch or assist (a performer) in order to prevent injury.
  14. Slang. to lend: Can you spot me twenty for tonight’s game?

verb (used without object), spot·ted, spot·ting.

  1. to make a spot; cause a stain: Ink spots badly.
  2. to become spotted, as some fabrics when spattered with water.
  3. Military. to serve or act as a spotter.


  1. Radio, Television.
    1. pertaining to the point of origin of a local broadcast.
    2. broadcast between announced programs.
  2. made, paid, delivered, etc., at once: a spot sale; spot goods.
  1. hit the high spots, Informal. to deal with or include only the major points of interest: With but a limited amount of vacation time, he concentrated on hitting the high spots of Europe.
  2. hit the spot, Informal. to satisfy a want or need, as to quench thirst: Iced tea hits the spot during the hot summer months.
  3. in a (bad) spot, in an uncomfortable or dangerous predicament: The tourists found themselves in a bad spot after they lost their money in Las Vegas.
  4. knock spots off, British Slang. to outdo easily; beat.
  5. on the spot,
    1. without delay; at once; instantly.
    2. at the very place in question.
    3. in a difficult or embarrassing position.
    4. in a position of being expected to act or to respond in some way.


  1. a small mark on a surface, such as a circular patch or stain, differing in colour or texture from its surroundings
  2. a geographical area that is restricted in extenta beauty spot
  3. a locationthis is the exact spot on which he died
  4. a blemish of the skin, esp a pimple or one occurring through some disease
  5. a blemish on the character of a person; moral flaw
  6. informal a place of entertainmentwe hit all the night spots
  7. informal, mainly British a small quantity or amounta spot of lunch
  8. informal an awkward situationthat puts me in a bit of a spot
  9. a short period between regular television or radio programmes that is used for advertising
  10. a position or length of time in a show assigned to a specific performer
  11. short for spotlight
  12. (in billiards)
    1. Also called: spot ballthe white ball that is distinguished from the plain by a mark or spot
    2. the player using this ball
  13. billiards snooker one of several small black dots on a table that mark where a ball is to be placed
  14. (modifier)
    1. denoting or relating to goods, currencies, or securities available for immediate delivery and paymentspot goods See also spot market, spot price
    2. involving immediate cash paymentspot sales
  15. change one’s spots (used mainly in negative constructions) to reform one’s character
  16. high spot an outstanding eventthe high spot of the holiday was the visit to the winery
  17. knock spots off to outstrip or outdo with ease
  18. on the spot
    1. immediately
    2. at the place in question
    3. in the best possible position to deal with a situation
    4. in an awkward predicament
    5. without moving from the place of one’s location, etc
    6. (as modifier)our on-the-spot reporter
  19. soft spot a special sympathetic affection or weakness for a person or thing
  20. tight spot a serious, difficult, or dangerous situation
  21. weak spot
    1. some aspect of a character or situation that is susceptible to criticism
    2. a flaw in a person’s knowledgeclassics is my weak spot

verb spots, spotting or spotted

  1. (tr) to observe or perceive suddenly, esp under difficult circumstances; discern
  2. to put stains or spots upon (something)
  3. (intr) (of some fabrics) to be susceptible to spotting by or as if by watersilk spots easily
  4. (tr) to place here and therethey spotted observers along the border
  5. to look out for and note (trains, talent, etc)
  6. (intr) to rain slightly; spit
  7. (tr) billiards to place (a ball) on one of the spots
  8. military to adjust fire in order to correct deviations from (the target) by observation
  9. (tr) US informal to yield (an advantage or concession) to (one’s opponent)to spot someone a piece in chess

c.1200, “moral stain,” probably from Old English splott “a spot, blot, patch (of land)” infl. by Middle Dutch spotte “spot, speck.” Other cognates are East Frisian spot “speck,” North Frisian spot “speck, piece of ground,” Old Norse spotti “small piece.” It is likely that some of these are borrowed, but the exact evolution now is impossible to trace.

Meaning “speck, stain” is from mid-14c. The sense of “particular place” is from c.1300. Meaning “short interval in a broadcast for an advertisement or announcement” is from 1923. Proceeded by a number (e.g. five-spot) it originally was a term for “prison sentence” of that many years (1901, American English slang). To put (someone) on the spot “place in a difficult situation” is from 1928. Colloquial phrase to hit the spot “satisfy, be what is required” is from 1868. Spot check first attested 1933. Spot on “completely, accurately” is attested from 1920.


early 15c., “to stain, sully, tarnish” from spot (n.). Sense of “to stain with spots” is attested from mid-15c. Meaning “to see and recognize,” is from 1718, originally colloquial and applied to a criminal or suspected person; the general sense is from 1860. Related: Spotted; spotting.


  1. A mark on a surface differing sharply in color from its surroundings.
  2. A stain or blot.


  1. To lose a slight amount of blood through the vagina.

see blind spot; hit the high spots; hit the spot; in a bind (tight spot); in a fix (spot); Johnny-on-the-spot; knock the socks (spots) off; leopard cannot change its spots; on the spot; rooted to the spot; soft spot; x marks the spot.

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