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

Definition of specialize

1 intransitive
a : to concentrate one's efforts in a special activity, field, or practice a doctor who specializes in pediatrics an attorney who specializes in estate planning Everywhere, the pressure is on young people to specialize.— Donald Kaul
b : to have a characteristic, habitual way of behaving, speaking, etc. … the halftime commentator on ESPN 2, who specialized in inanities throughout the tournament …— Jonathan Wilson … a computer industry that seems to specialize in simultaneous hype and obfuscation …— Walter S. Mossberg The anti-environmental presidency was orchestrated by administration insiders who have specialized in being out of touch …— Gregg Easterbrook
2 intransitive, biology : to undergo specialization (see specialization sense 2) or differentiation As cells begin to specialize into adult tissues, methylation seems to inactivate genes that are no longer needed.— John Travis especially : to change adaptively … diversity comes about because each different fish has to specialize, to find its own niche where it can do better than its competitors. — Kenneth E. F. Watt
3 transitive : to apply or direct (something or someone) to a specific end, use, or specialty specialized their study … media are evolving so quickly that education of the future will probably be forced to specialize students in one or another media-type, no longer producing a single "literate" man.— Henry G. Burger Even some small police departments have seen fit to specialize their investigative units …— Daniel S. McDevitt
4 transitive, dated : to make particular mention of (something) : specify, particularize … Edward dares not specialize what alone he dreads.— Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Examples of specialize in a Sentence

Some carpenters do a wide range of jobs, while others specialize.
Recent Examples on the Web Cuell will specialize in documentary and factual entertainment at Dreamchaser, coming with more than 20 years’ experience in the genres for Australian TV, public broadcasting and subscription TV. Patrick Brzeski, The Hollywood Reporter, 15 June 2022 The 11th Airborne Division, based in Alaska, will specialize in arctic warfare. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 9 June 2022 The company, in this location, will specialize in flexible packaging, such as pouches. Cathy Kozlowicz, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 1 June 2022 The older Molinari will specialize in statistics and analytics for Stenson. Andrew Dampf, ajc, 30 May 2022 The restaurant debuted April 12 and will specialize in takeaway dishes that are easy to reheat. Rod Stafford Hagwood, sun-sentinel.com, 13 Apr. 2022 For example, our company resolves this by collaborating with other partners who specialize in certain security solutions. Arturs Kruze, Forbes, 10 June 2022 This is the organization's 10th year anniversary and will feature designers from across the state who specialize in children's fashion, couture looks, fashion accessories and menswear. Chandra Fleming, Detroit Free Press, 7 June 2022 Some investors who specialize in the normally placid agency market are raising new funds to buy up bonds on the cheap. Matt Wirz, WSJ, 31 May 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of specialize

1616, in the meaning defined at sense 4

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The first known use of specialize was in 1616

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Last Updated

27 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Specialize.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/specialize. Accessed 6 Jul. 2022.

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More Definitions for specialize


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 specialize (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

More from Merriam-Webster on specialize

Nglish: Translation of specialize for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of specialize for Arabic Speakers


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