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

All of the contracts went to ParkWorks or its successor, LAND Studios, a design and consulting firm that specializes in creating public spaces. Robert Higgs, cleveland.com, "Some of ex-Councilman Joe Cimperman's ethics charges involve votes on ordinances that didn't name the recipient of the contract," 15 May 2018 The least-bad option for monetary policy is a Fed that is insulated from political manipulation, has the luxury of a long time horizon and has specialized expertise. WSJ, "An Independent Fed Is the Least Bad Option," 30 Jan. 2019 Behind the Brand: Zein Obagi, a dermatologist in Beverly Hills, specializing in pigmentation disorders and chemical peels. Jolene Edgar, Allure, "The Best Skin-Care Brands Created by Dermatologists, According to a Cosmetic Surgeon," 16 May 2018 Cuthbert used to be a social worker in Canada, specializing in mental health and addictions counseling, while modeling on the side. Jessica Radloff, Glamour, "'Fiji Water Girl' Kelleth Cuthbert Tells Us: 'This Is Something I Would Go Viral For'," 7 Jan. 2019 But Washington doesn’t seem to reward anymore the kind of pragmatism that Lamar Alexander and others in the old guard specialize in. Dylan Scott, Vox, "Lamar Alexander, pillar of Washington’s old guard, is retiring from the Senate," 17 Dec. 2018 Unlike a number of Chinese restaurants in nearby Chinatown, Xiao Mei Xing's menu is short and focused, specializing in street-food dishes from Shenyang, a major city in Northern China. Nick Kindelsperger, chicagotribune.com, "Fascinating fried eggplant at Xiao Mei Xing," 9 July 2018 Hogan’s eponymous real estate firm headquartered in Anne Arundel County specializes in land deals and commercial brokerage. Steve Thompson, Washington Post, "Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan releases tax returns showing $939K in income last year," 6 July 2018 Nahita comes to Park Square this summer (100 Arlington St. at Stuart Street), specializing in Latin and Asian food. Kara Baskin, BostonGlobe.com, "Tables: The Smoke Shop opens in Somerville, and a Revival we can get behind," 5 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

19 Feb 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 \
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

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


to express emotion in a dramatic way

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