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adjective spe·cif·ic \spi-ˈsi-fik\

Simple Definition of specific

  • : special or particular

  • : clearly and exactly presented or stated : precise or exact

  • : relating to a particular person, situation, etc.

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of specific

  1. 1a :  constituting or falling into a specifiable categoryb :  sharing or being those properties of something that allow it to be referred to a particular category

  2. 2a :  restricted to a particular individual, situation, relation, or effect <a disease specific to horses>b :  exerting a distinctive influence (as on a body part or a disease) <specific antibodies>

  3. 3 :  free from ambiguity :  accurate <a specific statement of faith>

  4. 4 :  of, relating to, or constituting a species and especially a biological species

  5. 5a :  being any of various arbitrary physical constants and especially one relating a quantitative attribute to unit mass, volume, or areab :  imposed at a fixed rate per unit (as of weight or count) <specific import duties> — compare ad valorem

specifically play \-fi-k(ə-)lē\ adverb

Examples of specific in a sentence

  1. Is there anything specific you want for dinner?

  2. There is a specific word for this kind of feeling.

  3. a bird species that requires a specific environment

  4. We were each given a specific topic to talk about.

  5. The doctor gave the patient specific instructions on how to care for the wound.

  6. Can you be more specific? What exactly did the policeman say?

  7. He gave her a ring—or, to be more specific, he gave her an engagement ring.

  8. She was very specific—you have to use a certain kind of tomato in the sauce.

  9. an education plan specific to each student's interests and abilities

  10. problems specific to this one housing project

Origin of specific

Late Latin specificus, from Latin species

First Known Use: circa 1631

Synonym Discussion of specific

special, especial, specific, particular, individual mean of or relating to one thing or class. special stresses having a quality, character, identity, or use of its own <special ingredients>. especial may add implications of preeminence or preference <a matter of especial importance>. specific implies a quality or character distinguishing a kind or a species <children with specific nutritional needs>. particular stresses the distinctness of something as an individual <a ballet step of particular difficulty>. individual implies unequivocal reference to one of a class or group <valued each individual opinion>.

explicit, definite, express, specific mean perfectly clear in meaning. explicit implies such verbal plainness and distinctness that there is no need for inference and no room for difficulty in understanding <explicit instructions>. definite stresses precise, clear statement or arrangement that leaves no doubt or indecision <the law is definite in such cases>. express implies both explicitness and direct and positive utterance <her express wishes>. specific applies to what is precisely and fully treated in detail or particular <two specific criticisms>.



noun spe·cif·ic

Definition of specific

  1. 1a :  something peculiarly adapted to a purpose or useb :  a drug or remedy having a specific mitigating effect on a disease <used as a specific against malaria>

  2. 2a :  a characteristic quality or traitb :  details, particulars —usually used in plural <haggling over the legal and financial specifics of independence — Time>c plural :  specification 2a

Examples of specific in a sentence

  1. <quinine is a specific for malaria>

  2. <although the speech was long on rhetoric and platitudinous generalities, it lacked specifics>


First Known Use of specific



combining form spe·cif·ic

Definition of -specific

  1. :  relating or applying specifically to or intended specifically for <gender-specific>

Origin of -specific


SPECIFIC Defined for Kids


adjective spe·cif·ic \spi-ˈsi-fik\

Definition of specific for Students

  1. 1 :  relating to or being an example of a certain kind of thing <a specific case>

  2. 2 :  relating to a particular individual or situation <There are problems specific to this project.>

  3. 3 :  clearly and exactly presented or stated <specific directions>

specifically \-ˈsi-fi-kə-lē\ adverb

Law Dictionary


adjective spe·cif·ic \spə-ˈsi-fik\

Legal Definition of specific

  1. 1 :  relating to a particular thing

  2. 2 :  intended for or restricted to a particular end or object

  3. 3 :  being of a particularly identified kind or nature

specifically \-i-klē, -kə-lē\ play adverb
specificity \ˌspe-sə-ˈfi-sə-tē\ play noun

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