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

Other Words from specific


specifically \ spi-​ˈsi-​fi-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce specifically (audio) \ adverb

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

Habak further recommends that residents with specific health conditions wear a medical alert device. cleveland.com, "South side communities offer residential lock box programs," 6 June 2019 Come February, those of us who pay close enough attention can remember specific details from more than 100 of them. Mitch Goldich, SI.com, "Actually, Ties in the NFL Are Fun," 6 June 2019 Now, Soulless references this late-in-life admission from Genson, and also reveals a more specific, clinical condemnation. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, "Soulless and the Fallacy of R. Kelly’s Need for ‘Help’," 6 June 2019 But it also can be ordered to clean just a specific area, thanks to its Zone Cleaning feature. Chris Morris, Fortune, "6 Great Gifts Ideas for Dad on Father's Day," 5 June 2019 But the jolt comes from the specific details — naming black civil-rights activist Medgar Evers and his 1963 assassination by a gunman hiding in a bush. Armond White, National Review, "Morrissey’s California Son Makes Protest Music Personal," 5 June 2019 That could lead to dog-specific seating areas on planes or even rule out the presence of support and service dogs on flights altogether. Wes Siler, Outside Online, "The Grim Effect Delta's ESA Lawsuit Will Have on Travel," 4 June 2019 Aside from cultivating Asian creative talent, ACN also allows for discourse about specific issues that Asians often encounter in the creative space. Belle Lu, NBC News, "A Facebook group for Asian creatives made an Ariana Grande parody possible," 3 June 2019 Master the situation The Lions have used their six organized team activity practices so far this spring and this week’s minicamp to focus on very specific areas of football. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, "Lions' Tracy Walker out to earn trust from coaches, starting safety job," 22 May 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Savarese wouldn’t talk about the specifics of the discussion after the game. Jamie Goldberg, oregonlive.com, "Portland Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese: ‘I’m proud of the way my players played’ against LAFC," 5 June 2019 The best way to figure out if your insurance will help cover the procedure is to call them directly and ask about the specifics of your plan. Jennifer Gerson Uffalussy, Glamour, "How Much Does an Abortion Cost?," 26 Apr. 2019 The top-tier Democratic presidential candidates have outlined scant specifics on how to revamp the nation’s immigration system, including responding to the thousands of Central American families... Louise Radnofsky, WSJ, "On Immigration, 2020 Democrats Largely Stick to Decrying Trump," 23 May 2019 Those three bulletins were slightly different from today's version, featuring specifics of the baby's birth without any mention of the Queen and the royal family. Maggie Maloney, Town & Country, "How Baby Sussex’s Official Birth Announcement Differs from Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis’s," 6 May 2019 The memo does not provide specifics on when some of the alleged incidents occurred. The Washington Post, OregonLive.com, "VA nominee Ronny Jackson considers withdrawing after allegations of professional misconduct," 25 Apr. 2018 Head injury, without getting into too many specifics. Bob Condotta, The Seattle Times, "Seahawks ‘were not comfortable’ allowing Malik McDowell to try to continue playing, agent says," 25 Mar. 2019 What is the process, what are the specifics around it? Luke Leitch, Vogue, "The Challenge of Freedom: Kris Van Assche on Rebooting Berluti," 17 Jan. 2019 Some specifics of our techniques for determining the true identity of a person crossing the border are law enforcement sensitive information. Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, "Border Patrol Detained a 9-Year-Old U.S. Citizen for Over a Day on Her Way to School," 22 Mar. 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

10 Jun 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 device or gadget

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


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!