noun spe·cial·ist \ ˈspe-sh(ə-)list \
|Updated on: 6 Jul 2018

Definition of specialist

1 : one who specializes in a particular occupation, practice, or field of study
  • a specialist in disorders of the immune system
  • a specialist in international law
  • "What does Dr. James Mortimer, the man of science, ask of Sherlock Holmes, the specialist in crime?"
  • —Arthur Conan Doyle
2 : an enlisted rank in the U.S. Army corresponding to the grade of corporal; also : any of several former enlisted ranks corresponding to the grades of sergeant through sergeant major
3 : an organism (such as a bird) specialized especially in food or habitat


or specialistic play \ˌspe-shə-ˈli-stik\ adjective

Examples of specialist in a Sentence

  1. She consulted a marketing specialist when she decided to go into business.

  2. He saw a specialist for his foot problem.

Recent Examples of specialist from the Web

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

First Known Use of specialist


in the meaning defined at sense 1

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SPECIALIST Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of specialist for English Language Learners

  • : a person who has special knowledge and skill relating to a particular job, area of study, etc.

  • : a doctor who deals with health problems that relate to a specific area of medicine

  • : a rank in the U.S. Army that is above the rank of private and below the rank of corporal

SPECIALIST Defined for Kids


noun spe·cial·ist \ ˈspe-shə-list \

Definition of specialist for Students

1 : a person who studies or works at a special occupation or branch of learning
  • a specialist in animal behavior
  • an eye specialist
2 : an enlisted person in the army with a rank similar to that of corporal

Medical Dictionary


noun spe·cial·ist \ ˈspesh-(ə-)ləst \

medical Definition of specialist

: a medical practitioner whose practice is limited to a particular class of patients (as children) or of diseases (as skin diseases) or of technique (as surgery); especially : a physician who is qualified by advanced training and certification by a specialty examining board to so limit his or her practice

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