non·​spe·​cif·​ic | \ ˌnän-spi-ˈsi-fik \

Definition of nonspecific

: not specific: such as
a : lacking in detail or particulars nonspecific answers a nonspecific description
b : not caused by a specific or identified agent nonspecific enteritis
c : not restricted to a particular category, situation, or group nonspecific flu-like symptoms
d : not affecting a particular region or part nonspecific pain
e : having a general purpose, effect, or action : lacking in specificity nonspecific antiviral agents nonspecific irritants

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from nonspecific

nonspecifically \ ˌnän-​spi-​ˈsi-​fi-​k(ə-​)lē \ adverb
After a toxic protein is released into the bloodstream, it is taken up by macrophages, cells that nonspecifically scavenge and ingest various substances. — Harald von Boehmer and Pawel Kisielow

Examples of nonspecific in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The Crew 2 doesn’t even have fun with the inanity inherent in chasing nonspecific social media presence points. Steven Strom, Ars Technica, "The Crew 2 review: Where is everybody?," 10 July 2018 This nonspecific defense may be a strategy that gets the plants more bang for their buck by further improving their overall odds of survival, says Orrock, who reported the results with his colleagues in March in Oecologia. Erica Tennenhouse, Scientific American, "Plants “Eavesdrop” on Slimy Snails," 13 Apr. 2018 For now, the only treatment is a nonspecific antiviral drug, ribavirin. Leslie Roberts, Science | AAAS, "Health workers scramble to contain deadly rat-borne fever in Nigeria," 12 Mar. 2018 But mostly, people take vitamins for nonspecific reasons. Brennan Kilbane, GQ, "The Vitamin Supplement Craze Is Mostly Hogwash," 9 Mar. 2018 All brain imaging showed normal or nonspecific issues that may be explained by age or preexisting issues, despite earlier reports. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "“Injury to widespread brain networks” in victims of mystery attacks in Cuba," 15 Feb. 2018 Work with a local business and avoid businesses with vague, nonspecific names. Leah Napoliello, Houston Chronicle, "BBB on homes: Garage door repair: Don't let urgency override caution," 2 Mar. 2018 In 2016 Zendaya created the fashion line, Daya By Zendaya, to bring her cool and chic style to her fans with a collection of gender-nonspecific pieces. Colleen Kratofil,, "Zendaya Drops Company Producing Her Clothing Line After Customer Complaints," 12 Jan. 2018 Ectopic pregnancies can manifest nonspecific symptoms such as abdominal pain and vaginal bleeding, sometimes alongside the typical pregnancy symptoms of amenorrhea, sore breasts, and morning sickness. Joanna Petrone, Longreads, "Pregnant, then Ruptured," 18 Aug. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'nonspecific.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of nonspecific

1860, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about nonspecific

Share nonspecific

Statistics for nonspecific

Last Updated

27 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for nonspecific

The first known use of nonspecific was in 1860

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for nonspecific


non·​spe·​cif·​ic | \ -spi-ˈsif-ik \

Medical Definition of nonspecific

: not specific: as
a : not caused by a specific agent nonspecific enteritis
b : having a general purpose or effect nonspecific therapy

Other Words from nonspecific

nonspecifically \ -​ˈsif-​i-​k(ə-​)lē \ adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on nonspecific

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for nonspecific

Comments on nonspecific

What made you want to look up nonspecific? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


someone who never drinks alcohol

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three-bears-two-of-them-look-like-theyre-whispering-to-a-third-bear-who-looks-chuffed-to-be-the-center-of-attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!