I have come across this phrase a lot and upon searching it, I did not find any definition of it in any online free dictionary I consulted. Does it mean "on the other hand"?

Example: On the other end of the spectrum, in Switzerland, characterised by Yates as taking an active approach to the treatment of [...] (From Linguee)

Another example: As rapporteur, I have consulted widely on this issue and examined every option from one end of the spectrum to the other. (From Linguee)

Can anyone tell me what it means?

  • It is not a good idea to post bits of things. The first is about the law, and the second I have not bothered to look up.
    – Lambie
    Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 17:33
  • @Lambie What do you mean? (I dont think I understand your comment)
    – user119042
    Commented Mar 16, 2021 at 8:33
  • Those are not full sentences with full ideas. The first usage is somewhat unusual: they look the same and are not. (That said, a spectrum of something always has two ends...).
    – Lambie
    Commented Mar 16, 2021 at 13:05
  • @Lambie oh... I didn't know that. I didn't even know what the idiom meant, so I picked out random sentences from random sources.
    – user119042
    Commented Mar 17, 2021 at 7:13

2 Answers 2


A spectrum is a wide range, and the "ends of the spectrum" are the points at each end of the range, or the extremes.

"At the other end of the spectrum" means "at the other extreme" or "in sharp contrast".

"From one end of the spectrum to the other" means "from one extreme to the other extreme".

For reference:

Spectrum: Used to classify something in terms of its position on a scale between two extreme points. ‘the left or the right of the political spectrum’ 2.1: A wide range. ‘self-help books are covering a broader and broader spectrum’ Lexico

Spectrum: a range of different positions, opinions, etc. between two extreme points. The group includes students from both ends of the social spectrum (= range of social classes). Cambridge


A literal spectrum is a rainbow of colours. Although each colour blends smoothly into the next colour (so nobody can say how many there are) The two ends of the spectrum: red and blue, are very different from each other.

Figuratively a spectrum is when there is a range of different types, with no clear jumps between types, but a clear difference between the two ends.

So there is a social spectrum from low class people to high class people. There is a political spectrum from left wing to right wing. And there are many other examples.

The end sof the pectrum are the different two extreme different types. So the ends of the political spectrum are the communist on one end and neo-nazi on the other.


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