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

Synonyms & Antonyms for specific

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Noun

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

Adjective 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 Noun 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 James, 20, sought Similac for her 2-month-old daughter Legacy, because WIC only covered that specific brand. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, 20 May 2022 The company was relying on a pandemic-specific federal guideline instructing health care providers treating patients to bill for COVID-19 tests as diagnostic tests whether or not the patient had symptoms or could pinpoint an exposure. Anjeanette Damon, ProPublica, 20 May 2022 By setting clear overall and channel-specific KPIs to use for decision-making, brands can be agile and strategic in achieving P&L objectives. Tucker Matheson, Forbes, 20 May 2022 The agency has cancer-specific support groups, financial and legal assistance, a wig salon and exercise and nutrition programs. Sean Mcdonnell, cleveland, 20 May 2022 The only male-specific contraceptive options available for generations have been condoms or the more invasive option—vasectomies. Manasee Wagh, Popular Mechanics, 20 May 2022 Driver pay is calculated by adding a location-specific per-mile and per-minute rate on top of a standard fare in addition to other factors, according to Uber. Orlando Mayorquin, USA TODAY, 20 May 2022 These are just a handful of the hundreds of changes that include changes to privacy, sharing, and profiling, as well as offering wellbeing measures and age-specific information, all to comply with the code. Jonathan Haidt, Fortune, 19 May 2022 There is some question about whether an Omicron-specific vaccine would train fully unvaccinated immune systems to fight other variants as well as the original formula, Wu reports. Peter Weber, The Week, 19 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Roar‘s reach for the universal comes at the cost of the specific. Angie Han, The Hollywood Reporter, 11 Apr. 2022 Having previously turned movement into an ideal, almost abstract form, Yeoh is now bringing it back to the specific — a particular aging, female, Asian body housing a human being with complex emotions. New York Times, 15 Mar. 2022 Jepsen’s great trick is invoking the communal over the specific. New York Times, 14 Mar. 2022 The history is the specific to time and place elements. oregonlive, 9 Feb. 2022 But her smaller-scale series showcase even better Winfrey’s gift for breaking down the boundaries between the elites and the masses and for locating the universal in the specific or even the exceptional. Washington Post, 31 Dec. 2021 In the hands of the Rodríguez brothers, this at times unbearably claustrophobic movie is constantly pushing us into the specific so as to get at something bigger, something more universal. Manuel Betancourt, Variety, 21 Dec. 2021 His life is in many ways unique, but good writers can locate the universal in the specific. Washington Post, 18 Dec. 2021 The fact that this came from that one weird specific is comedy gold, through and through. Luke Kelly-clyne And Graham Techler, Vulture, 30 Oct. 2021 See More

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.

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

Learn More About specific

Time Traveler for specific

Time Traveler

The first known use of specific was circa 1631

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near specific




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for specific

Last Updated

23 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Specific.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/specific. Accessed 24 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for specific


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


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 specific (audio) \ adverb
specificity \ ˌspe-​sə-​ˈfi-​sə-​tē How to pronounce specific (audio) \ noun

More from Merriam-Webster on specific

Nglish: Translation of specific for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of specific for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Great Words for Scrabble

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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