spe·​cial·​ize ˈspe-shə-ˌlīz How to pronounce specialize (audio)
specialized; specializing
: 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
: 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
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
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
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 Investigative journalists specializing in crime and corruption reporting will pitch their stories to filmmakers and series at the first Floodlight Summit, which kicks off in Cartagena, Colombia on Thursday, Nov. 30, and runs through Dec. 3. Scott Roxborough, The Hollywood Reporter, 27 Nov. 2023 Neurologists are doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating diseases of the brain and the central nervous system. Margie Zable Fisher, Fortune Well, 26 Nov. 2023 Dalpat Rajpurohit, a South Asia scholar who specializes in early Hindi literature at University of Texas at Austin, notes that conservative Hindus also express admiration for Kabir. Kalpana Jain, The Christian Science Monitor, 21 Nov. 2023 Then in 2018, Bourgeois hired the DNA Doe Project, a volunteer research group that specializes in forensic genealogy analysis. CBS News, 20 Nov. 2023 Katie Weir is a lingerie expert and the PR and content manager at Curvy Kate, a wholesale lingerie and swimsuit retailer that specializes in D-K cup sizing. Courtney Leiva, Peoplemag, 20 Nov. 2023 The restaurant specializes in serving the Brazilian cowboy menu known as rodizio. Pam Kragen, San Diego Union-Tribune, 17 Nov. 2023 Iceland does have those sorts of volcanoes, but the Reykjanes Peninsula also specializes in fissure-style eruptions: cracks in the ground that open, often with little warning, when magma below forces its way to the surface. WIRED, 16 Nov. 2023 About this story This report is part of a joint investigation by The Washington Post and The Examination, a new nonprofit newsroom specializing in global public health reporting. Anahad O’Connor, Washington Post, 15 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'specialize.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1616, in the meaning defined at sense 4

Time Traveler
The first known use of specialize was in 1616

Dictionary Entries Near specialize

Cite this Entry

“Specialize.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/specialize. Accessed 4 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


spe·​cial·​ize ˈspesh-ə-ˌlīz How to pronounce specialize (audio)
specialized; specializing
: to limit one's attention or energy to one business, subject, or study
: to undergo specialization

Medical Definition


intransitive verb
variants also British specialise
specialized also British specialised; specializing also British specialising
: to concentrate one's efforts in a special activity or field : become or be a specialist
specialize in anesthesiology
: to undergo evolutionary specialization

More from Merriam-Webster on specialize

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