spe·cial·ize | \ˈspe-shə-ˌlīz \
specialized; specializing

Definition of specialize 

transitive verb

1 : to make particular mention of : particularize

2 : to apply or direct to a specific end or use specialized their study

intransitive verb

1 : to concentrate one's efforts in a special activity, field, or practice

2 : to undergo specialization especially : to change adaptively

Examples of specialize in a Sentence

Some carpenters do a wide range of jobs, while others specialize.

Recent Examples on the Web

Pat LaFrieda has teamed up with a German company called Otto Wilde Grillers — which appears to specialize in nothing but its eponymous products, as well as any accessories for use with them — for his Pat LaFrieda Signature Series model. Michael Bartiromo, Fox News, "Renowned meat purveyor shopping $1200 grill that looks like a toaster oven," 13 July 2018 Oliver played last season for the Delaware Blue Coats of the NBA G-League, and needs to specialize on rolling to the basket and grabbing rebounds – especially offensive ones. Keith Pompey, Philly.com, "Cameron Oliver's summer league play with Sixers is turning heads," 12 July 2018 Kelly had wanted to specialize in cardiovascular medicine but switched his career path to neurosurgery and decided in part to study CTE. Greg Bishop, SI.com, "A College QB's Suicide. A Family's Search for Answers.," 26 June 2018 Mahsud, 40, studied at a number of religious seminaries in Pakistan to specialize in different fields of religious teaching. Washington Post, "Pakistani Taliban choose new chief in place of Fazlullah," 23 June 2018 Coming Soon: Ora Trattorizza opens later this month in the Back Bay (653 Boylston St. at Dartmouth Street), specializing in Neapolitan pizza. Kara Baskin, BostonGlobe.com, "Tables: Some big closings in Southie, and welcoming The Wellington," 7 June 2018 Ten months later, Bronin hired a law firm specializing in municipal bankruptcy. Jenna Carlesso, Courant Community, "Oversight Board Approves Budget, End-Of-Year Subsidy For Hartford," 7 June 2018 Students can choose to specialize in construction, field supervision, concrete/masonry, apartment maintenance, advanced carpentry, computer aided drafting and design, HVAC and electrical. Myah Ward, charlotteobserver, "New Charlotte program offers free construction skills training for students and adults," 30 May 2018 He’s evaluated policies including providing intensive tutoring, texting students about the lifelong effects of education, and encouraging teachers to specialize. Jen Kirby, Vox, "A Harvard economics researcher has been accused of making “sexually inappropriate” comments," 29 May 2018

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

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First Known Use of specialize

1616, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

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Last Updated

15 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for specialize

The first known use of specialize was in 1616

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More Definitions for specialize



English Language Learners Definition of specialize

: to limit your business or area of study to one specific subject


spe·cial·ize | \ˈspe-shə-ˌlīz \
specialized; specializing

Kids Definition of specialize

1 : to limit attention or energy to one business, subject, or study The factory will specialize in jet airplanes.

2 : to change and develop so as to be suited for some particular use or living conditions The front legs of a mole are specialized for digging.


intransitive verb
variants: also British specialise \ˈspesh-ə-ˌlīz \
specialized also British specialised; specializing also British specialising

Medical Definition of specialize 

1 : to concentrate one's efforts in a special activity or field : become or be a specialist specialize in anesthesiology

2 : to undergo evolutionary specialization

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