spe·​cial·​ize | \ ˈspe-shə-ˌlīz How to pronounce specialize (audio) \
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

The attack occurred on Oct. 5 at Phoenix Rising, a facility providing housing and specialized services for young people struggling with addiction, mental-health issues and homelessness. Dominic Gates, The Seattle Times, "Security guard charged with sexually assaulting patient at addiction facility in Auburn," 21 Oct. 2018 Brian Crowell, a partner with Hudgins Companies, a firm that specializes in multifamily housing, used to live in Near Southside. Gordon Dickson, star-telegram, "It may be Fort Worth's most eclectic area. How long will the housing be affordable?," 7 June 2018 Tradespeople People who specialize in a skilled trade, such as roofing, tile, or electrical work. Brett Martin, House Beautiful, "See The Definitions Of Common Renovation Terms," 26 Dec. 2018 Or take a stroll over to Ink Dwell, the new studio of painter Jane Kim, who specializes in ornate audoban-style murals of still wildlife, and stand hynotized by the level of detail and precision in her art. Gregory Thomas, SFChronicle.com, "One Day, One Place: Half Moon Bay harbor," 11 July 2018 Monique Michel-Duarte is the owner and director of Ballet Folklorico Mexico Lindo, which specializes in traditional Mexican dance. Michael Katz, idahostatesman, "A Mexican dance studio in Nampa has been vandalized 3 times this week, owner says.," 28 June 2018 There will also be Catalan cooks who specialize in seafood, meats and other local culinary traditions. Max Kutner, Smithsonian, "Some of Barcelona’s Most Acclaimed Musicians Will Rock and Rumba Washington D.C.," 27 June 2018 But those who specialize in addiction treatment argue that the abstinence-only model doesn't work for many battling the brain disease of drug addiction. Beth Warren, The Courier-Journal, "Tired of going to funerals, this doctor treats addiction with drugs," 21 June 2018 The firm, which specialized in corporate, banking and utilities law, is defunct. Contributing Writer, NOLA.com, "'She makes G. Gordon Liddy look like a wimp'," 4 June 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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Statistics for specialize

Last Updated

16 Apr 2019

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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 How to pronounce specialize (audio) \
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 How to pronounce specialise (audio) \
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

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


not to be persuaded, moved, or stopped

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