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 Most forested areas can be expected to eventually regenerate, said Owen Price, a senior research fellow at the University of Wollongong specializing in bushfire risk management. Anchorage Daily News, "Fires set stage for irreversible forest losses in Australia," 19 Jan. 2020 Among those mobilized to search the North Jetty on foot were two volunteers with the Hauser Fire Department’s Beach Crew specializing in coastal rescue and two members of the North Bay Fire Department. oregonlive, "Luck and quick action save 3 crabbers after boat capsizes in Coos Bay," 16 Jan. 2020 Also, the employees at the first one make this amazing nuoc cham with spicy chilis, whereas the second one specializes in gyoza. Brian Agler, The New Yorker, "You Will Never Escape This Fancy Food Hall," 14 Jan. 2020 Villani said the Majestic Theatre and the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, which opened five years ago, now bring in some of the types of artists that Arts San Antonio specialized in, including international troupes. Deborah Martin, ExpressNews.com, "Arts San Antonio shuts down, cancels season," 13 Jan. 2020 Test runs Coogan specialized in long-distance running before his graduation from URI in 2013. Matt Maccormack, BostonGlobe.com, "Walpole boys’ indoor track a program on the rise," 11 Jan. 2020 Oxfam operates 26 programs in five Iraqi governates — Diyala, Kirkuk, Ninewa, Anbar and Salahaddin — specializing in sanitation, emergency food, gender programs and helping shield civilians from violence. NBC News, "U.S.-Iran crisis stops aid deliveries to thousands of vulnerable Iraqis," 9 Jan. 2020 Eel traps are also available and have specialized funnels that allow eels to swim in easily without escaping. Bob Mcnally, Field & Stream, "The Ultimate Guide to Catching and Keeping Saltwater Live Bait," 2 Jan. 2020 Maguire told me that the Quds Force has long specialized in two tactics: hostage-taking and truck-bombing. Dexter Filkins, The New Yorker, "The Dangers Posed by the Killing of Qassem Suleimani," 3 Jan. 2020

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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Time Traveler for specialize

Time Traveler

The first known use of specialize was in 1616

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Statistics for specialize

Last Updated

22 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Specialize.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/specialize. Accessed 25 January 2020.

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More Definitions for specialize


How to pronounce specialize (audio)

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.
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).


dull or mediocre

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