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

But one of the things that Axios specializes in obviously is what you guys would describe as smart brevity. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Axios’ Jonathan Swan explains what the press gets wrong about the Trump administration," 6 Dec. 2018 Scruggs began his program last fall and stayed through May 2018, specializing in player marketing and communications. Tom Groeschen, Cincinnati.com, "Cincinnati Bearcats: Former St. Xavier, NFL player Greg Scruggs joins UC football staff," 10 July 2018 Students read great books in small seminars, take classes across the humanities and sciences, and ultimately specialize in a field of interest. Chris Hughes, Town & Country, "Facebook Co-Founder Chris Hughes Explains Why There's No Substitute for the College Experience," 10 July 2018 USA TODAY Sports The World Cup’s Group B culminated in a few moments of insanity on Monday night, producing the kind of unpredictable, unthinkable drama that this tournament specializes in. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "Cristiano Ronaldo's missed penalty costs Portugal – and could haunt it forever," 25 June 2018 Masingill has previously worked as a director and policy advisor for Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe and was a resident scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, specializing on workforce development and small business and community investment. Bob Warren, NOLA.com, "Chris Masingill tapped to run St. Tammany economic agency," 22 May 2018 Hispanics do specialize in rape, particularly of children. Jane Coaston, Vox, "Peter Brimelow, the white nationalist with close ties to the White House’s economic adviser, explained," 22 Aug. 2018 In tax law, ignorance is an excuse for criminal violations,’’ said Guinevere Moore, a Chicago attorney specializing in tax cases. BostonGlobe.com, "The four times Trump signed tax returns for his foundation that contained incorrect information," 22 June 2018 Five Guys specializes in doubles with two thin cooked-to-order patties, with juicy results, and showcases a vast array of free optional toppings. Larry Olmsted, USA TODAY, "America’s unique burger styles, and where to try them," 4 July 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

10 Dec 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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More from Merriam-Webster on specialize

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with specialize

Spanish Central: Translation of specialize

Nglish: Translation of specialize for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of specialize for Arabic Speakers

Comments on specialize

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to enclose within walls

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