spec·​i·​fy | \ˈspe-sə-ˌfī \
specified; specifying

Definition of specify 

transitive verb

1 : to name or state explicitly or in detail

2 : to include as an item in a specification

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Other Words from specify

specifiable \ ˌspe-​sə-​ˈfī-​ə-​bəl \ adjective
specifier \ ˈspe-​sə-​ˌfī(-​ə)r \ noun

Examples of specify in a Sentence

Can you specify the cause of the argument? Specify the color and quantity when you order. He clearly specified California wine. The instructions do not specify what kind of screws to use. All subscriptions are for one year unless otherwise specified. At the specified time, we rang the bell. She agreed to the terms specified in the contract.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The survivors are asking for monetary damages, though the lawsuit does not specify an amount. Gal Tziperman Lotan, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Police and city violated civil rights by not going after Pulse shooter, lawsuit claims," 7 June 2018 Policies that ban all fraternization without specifying romantic relationships may also violate the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) which protects the right of employees to meet and organize for mutual support. Anchorage Daily News, "I’m dating a coworker who I don’t work with directly. Can my company legally require us to stop?," 7 May 2018 The request for proposals issued by the university in August said that the project could be financed through a port authority, without specifying which agency might be involved. Steven Litt, cleveland.com, "Kent State University giving equal weight to design and money in choice of business college developer (photos, video)," 17 Apr. 2018 At least one is a felony and others are misdemeanors, sources told the Free Press without specifying what the charges were. Gina Kaufman, Detroit Free Press, "Sources: Police arrest Larry Nassar's Michigan State University boss," 26 Mar. 2018 Every worker was given the equivalent of $5 in cash in an envelope that specified the money was a gift from Mr. Hun Sen and his wife, Bun Rany. Hannah Beech, New York Times, "Embracing China, Facebook and Himself, Cambodia’s Ruler Digs In," 17 Mar. 2018 The locations of the reunions were not specified Friday, nor did the government say whether these families would remain in immigration custody or be released on parole. Kristina Davis, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Trump administration outlines plan to reunify remaining 2,500 separated children," 14 July 2018 The Brazilian federation were also reportedly issued with a warning relating to the conduct of their supporters during the same game, although the nature of their behaviour was not specified. SI.com, "FIFA Issue Fines to Russian and Serbian Football Federations After Offensive Banners Seen at Games," 1 July 2018 Bethesda is suing for damages, but no amount was specified. Lisa Marie Segarra, Fortune, "Bethesda Sues Warner Bros. Over Its New 'Westworld' Game," 22 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'specify.' 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 specify

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for specify

Middle English specifien, from Anglo-French specifier, from Late Latin specificare, from specificus

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Statistics for specify

Last Updated

1 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for specify

The first known use of specify was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for specify



English Language Learners Definition of specify

: to name or mention (someone or something) exactly and clearly : to be specific about (something)


spec·​i·​fy | \ˈspe-sə-ˌfī \
specified; specifying

Kids Definition of specify

1 : to mention or name exactly and clearly Can you specify the cause of the crash?

2 : to include in a description of work to be done or materials to be used

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More from Merriam-Webster on specify

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for specify

Spanish Central: Translation of specify

Nglish: Translation of specify for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of specify for Arabic Speakers

Comments on specify

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


to express warning or disapproval

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