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

Five Guys specializes in doubles with two thin cooked-to-order patties, with juicy results, and showcases a vast array of free optional toppings. Larry Olmsted, USA TODAY, "America’s unique burger styles, and where to try them," 4 July 2018 The company specializes in partnering with public entities to build large mixed-use projects, according to its website. Richard Webner, San Antonio Express-News, "Foundation, developer may rehab East Side’s historic Sutton complex," 29 June 2018 Estonia, the third-largest contributor in terms of GDP, doesn’t provide many troops or equipment but rather specializes in cyber defense. Michael R. Gordon, WSJ, "NATO’s 2% Target: Why the U.S. Pushed Allies to Spend More on the Military," 12 July 2018 Keep your bar order simple Summerfest bartenders specialize in slinging beers and rail drinks. Lainey Seyler, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Don't be 'that person' at Summerfest. You know the one who walks slowly and spills beer," 27 June 2018 Meanwhile, a slew of newer firms — including hedge funds and those affiliated with hedge funds — that specialize in lending to mass-tort lawyers are cropping up. Matthew Goldstein, New York Times, "Hedge Funds Look to Profit From Personal-Injury Suits," 25 June 2018 The company is working with JLL, a professional services firm that specializes in real estate and investment management. Steve Lord, Aurora Beacon-News, "Caterpillar marketing its Aurora area plant," 8 May 2018 The disease causes weakening of the macula, which is the small area at the center of the retina, which is specialized for fine vision. Andrea K. Mcdaniels, baltimoresun.com, "Ask the Expert: Macular degeneration can lead to difficulty reading, recognizing faces and performing other fine tasks," 17 Apr. 2018 Pat LaFrieda has teamed up with a German company called Otto Wilde Grillers — which appears to specialize in nothing but its eponymous products, as well as any accessories for use with them — for his Pat LaFrieda Signature Series model. Michael Bartiromo, Fox News, "Renowned meat purveyor shopping $1200 grill that looks like a toaster oven," 13 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

12 Nov 2018

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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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