spe·​cif·​ic | \ spi-ˈsi-fik How to pronounce specific (audio) \

Definition of specific

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : constituting or falling into a specifiable category
b : sharing or being those properties of something that allow it to be referred to a particular category
2a : restricted to a particular individual, situation, relation, or effect a disease specific to horses
b : exerting a distinctive influence (as on a body part or a disease) specific antibodies
3 : free from ambiguity : accurate a specific statement of faith
4 : of, relating to, or constituting a species and especially a biological species
5a : being any of various arbitrary physical constants and especially one relating a quantitative attribute to unit mass, volume, or area
b : imposed at a fixed rate per unit (as of weight or count) specific import duties — compare ad valorem



Definition of specific (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : something peculiarly adapted to a purpose or use
b : a drug or remedy having a specific mitigating effect on a disease used as a specific against malaria
2a : a characteristic quality or trait
b : details, particulars usually used in plural haggling over the legal and financial specifics of independenceTime
c specifics plural : specification sense 2a


combining form

Definition of -specific (Entry 3 of 3)

: relating or applying specifically to or intended specifically for gender-specific

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for specific

Synonyms: Adjective

concrete, distinct, especial, express, peculiar, precise, set, special

Synonyms: Noun

cure, drug, medicament, medication, medicinal, medicine, pharmaceutical, physic, remedy

Antonyms: Adjective


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for specific


special, especial, specific, particular, individual mean of or relating to one thing or class. special stresses having a quality, character, identity, or use of its own. special ingredients especial may add implications of preeminence or preference. a matter of especial importance specific implies a quality or character distinguishing a kind or a species. children with specific nutritional needs particular stresses the distinctness of something as an individual. a ballet step of particular difficulty individual implies unequivocal reference to one of a class or group. valued each individual opinion

explicit, definite, express, specific mean perfectly clear in meaning. explicit implies such verbal plainness and distinctness that there is no need for inference and no room for difficulty in understanding. explicit instructions definite stresses precise, clear statement or arrangement that leaves no doubt or indecision. the law is definite in such cases express implies both explicitness and direct and positive utterance. her express wishes specific applies to what is precisely and fully treated in detail or particular. two specific criticisms

Examples of specific in a Sentence


Is there anything specific you want for dinner? There is a specific word for this kind of feeling. a bird species that requires a specific environment We were each given a specific topic to talk about. The doctor gave the patient specific instructions on how to care for the wound. Can you be more specific? What exactly did the policeman say? He gave her a ring—or, to be more specific, he gave her an engagement ring. She was very specific—you have to use a certain kind of tomato in the sauce. an education plan specific to each student's interests and abilities problems specific to this one housing project


quinine is a specific for malaria although the speech was long on rhetoric and platitudinous generalities, it lacked specifics
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

This system allows him not to have to worry about securing permits to park his bookstore on wheels in a specific area as the festivals, markets, and cities that ask him to visit take care of it all. Fortune, "This Tiny Bookstore on Wheels Is Currently Toting 3,000 Books Around the French Countryside," 14 Sep. 2019 Cybersecurity companies that perform vulnerability testing generally follow a very specific procedure for notification that includes individually reaching out to subjects and constructively helping them fix problems before publicizing them. Jessica Huseman, ProPublica, "Report on Election Security Gains Attention, and a Sharp Rebuke," 13 Sep. 2019 Unlike the other artists in this exhibit, who explore abstraction, Borgman’s more representational inclination has a very specific art-historical source in paintings by the Italian Baroque artist Caravaggio. Mike Giuliano, baltimoresun.com, "Road to the Arts events paved with fascination," 13 Sep. 2019 No specific product has been identified nor has any product been conclusively linked to illnesses. Stephanie Innes, azcentral, "Vaping may have caused respiratory illness in several Arizonans," 10 Sep. 2019 Cavallo's specific type of textured implant—a Natrelle 410 Highly Cohesive Anatomically Shaped Silicone Filled Breast Implant—was on the FDA's list of affected products. Maggie O'neill, Health.com, "'I Got Implants After Surviving Breast Cancer Twice—Then I Learned They Cause Cancer'," 4 Sep. 2019 Workshop leaders said a small business can improve its SEO by using the right keywords and by optimizing locally to focus on customers in a specific area. Carol Kovach, cleveland.com, "Lakewood Community, European festivals set for Sept. 7: A Place in the Sun," 3 Sep. 2019 Work didn’t mention artificial intelligence in his speech, and his initial description of technologies was wide-ranging, focused on the idea of agility and flexibility rather than a specific type of military weapon. The Atlantic, "Coming Soon to a Battlefield: Robots That Can Kill," 3 Sep. 2019 Except for some narrow exceptions – like in bathrooms and other specific areas where workers can expect to be in relative privacy – private-sector employees have virtually no way, nor any legal right, to opt out of this sort of monitoring. Jeffrey Hirsch, The Conversation, "Worker-protection laws aren’t ready for an automated future," 28 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The work of architects has long been presented in terms of designing inspiring building forms, while the technical specifics of construction has been relegated to the background. Anne Quito, Quartz, "A Swiss house built by robots promises to revolutionize the construction industry," 12 Sep. 2019 But the lack of cultural specifics combined with the fact that the characters are archetypes finally leaves Waiting for the Barbarians somewhat stranded. Boyd Van Hoeij, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Waiting for the Barbarians': Film Review | Venice 2019," 6 Sep. 2019 Sanders’s Green New Deal, released on August 22, is full of specifics and numbers. Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, "Bernie Sanders's Green New Deal Is a Reminder of What's Necessary to Take On the Climate Crisis," 23 Aug. 2019 The specifics vary, depending on the algorithm, but usually involve a mathematical representation of a number of crucial anatomical points, such as the location of the nose relative to other facial features, or the distance between the eyes. The Economist, "As face-recognition technology spreads, so do ideas for subverting it," 15 Aug. 2019 The Chicago Police Department would not discuss specifics of the investigation or its dealings with the family. Laura Rodriguez, chicagotribune.com, "‘You feel powerless’: Marlen Ochoa-Lopez’s parents talk about their panic, despair and grief as they searched in vain for the pregnant teen," 31 July 2019 The actor, whose casting was announced last year without any specifics, was supposed to play western icon But Reynolds in the Quentin Tarantino film, but his appearance has been cut from the final product, Collider reports. Kathryn Lindsay, refinery29.com, "Why This Famous Actor Was Cut From The Biggest Movie Of The Summer," 25 July 2019 Those who watch the show know that Danielle and Adam have been noticeably vague about their job specifics over the years. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "What Does Adam Busby From 'Outdaughtered' Do for a Living?," 12 June 2019 Church leaders called for swift action and are expected to debate specifics in Birmingham. al.com, "Southern Baptists discuss whether one woman can preach," 9 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'specific.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of specific


circa 1631, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1661, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for specific

Adjective and Combining form

Late Latin specificus, from Latin species

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about specific

Statistics for specific

Last Updated

14 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for specific

The first known use of specific was circa 1631

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for specific



English Language Learners Definition of specific

: special or particular
: clearly and exactly presented or stated : precise or exact
: relating to a particular person, situation, etc.


spe·​cif·​ic | \ spi-ˈsi-fik How to pronounce specific (audio) \

Kids Definition of specific

1 : relating to or being an example of a certain kind of thing a specific case
2 : relating to a particular individual or situation There are problems specific to this project.
3 : clearly and exactly presented or stated specific directions

Other Words from specific

specifically \ -​ˈsi-​fi-​kə-​lē \ adverb


spe·​cif·​ic | \ spi-ˈsif-ik How to pronounce specific (audio) \

Medical Definition of specific

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : restricted by nature to a particular individual, situation, relation, or effect a disease specific to horses
b : exerting a distinctive influence (as on a body part or a disease) specific antibodies
2 : of, relating to, or constituting a species and especially a biological species



Medical Definition of specific (Entry 2 of 2)

: a drug or remedy having a specific mitigating effect on a disease

Keep scrolling for more


spe·​cif·​ic | \ spə-ˈsi-fik How to pronounce specific (audio) \

Legal Definition of specific

1 : relating to a particular thing
2 : intended for or restricted to a particular end or object
3 : being of a particularly identified kind or nature

Other Words from specific

specifically \ -​i-​klē, -​kə-​lē How to pronounce specifically (audio) \ adverb
specificity \ ˌspe-​sə-​ˈfi-​sə-​tē How to pronounce specificity (audio) \ noun

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on specific

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with specific

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for specific

Spanish Central: Translation of specific

Nglish: Translation of specific for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of specific for Arabic Speakers

Comments on specific

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


a bell tower

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Where in the World? A Quiz

  • peter bruegel tower of babel painting
  • What language does pajama come from?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!