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 pluralhaggling 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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for specific

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Adjective

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Pigment-specific peels, like pyruvic acid, are recommended since studies have shown this ingredient is specifically effective for diminishing hyperpigmentation. Julie Ricevuto, Allure, "The Science of Beauty: The Complete Guide to Treating Hyperpigmentation," 22 Oct. 2020 Thursday’s report from the Labor Department provides data on regular state programs—which have served as an economic bellwether for a half-century—as well as details from pandemic-specific programs first implemented in March. Eric Morath, WSJ, "U.S. Jobless Claims Fell to 787,000 Last Week," 22 Oct. 2020 The site-specific concert footage took over two weeks to film. Christopher Arnott, courant.com, "Connecticut arts galas go online, with less schmoozing but more stars," 22 Oct. 2020 The library also offers free access to Gale Legal Forms, an online database with thousands of Louisiana official, state-specific, federal, business, personal, real estate and general forms covering hundreds of legal subjects and issues. John Marc Sharpe | Contributing Writer, NOLA.com, "Hours and in-person sessions are expanding at Orleans Parish Libraries," 22 Oct. 2020 The initiative, Proposition 22, is not a referendum on A.B. 5, but a tech-industry-specific exemption. Anna Wiener, The New Yorker, "Gig Work on the Ballot in California," 22 Oct. 2020 Tucker spent almost the entire 32 minutes of his preview of the Scarlet Knights dancing around who might be his starting quarterback and other position-specific questions. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "Why Mel Tucker is hiding his Michigan State football team," 21 Oct. 2020 Staging the league’s showcase event in a new, soccer-specific stadium instead of a smaller, temporary Arizona venue would seem a powerful selling point. Tim Sullivan, The Courier-Journal, "How homophobic slur could decide if LouCity hosts potential USL Championship against Phoenix," 20 Oct. 2020 Turnovers weren’t a new problem nor a Dalton-specific issue for the Cowboys. Jori Epstein, USA TODAY, "Ezekiel Elliott takes blame for fumbles, Cowboys' blowout loss: 'I want to say I'm sorry'," 20 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Seinfeld’s keen-eyed encapsulations of the minutiae of daily life are testament to the old saw about how in the specific there is the universal. Washington Post, "Jerry Seinfeld’s ‘Is This Anything?’ charts his life as a comedian, one bit at a time," 13 Oct. 2020 But these technologies are typically geared toward a specific, and profitable, demographic: higher-income white, cisgender woman. Alexander Borsa, STAT, "When private equity firms invest in women’s health clinics, who benefits?," 14 Sep. 2020 The personal and the specific are the antidotes to cliché, but these are often only recognizable to those who know a place intimately, and see, in every little inlet, home. Lucy Jakub, The New York Review of Books, "Maine’s Sublime Canvas of Contradictions," 12 Sep. 2020 Ostensibly universal, Damron’s handbook, first published in 1964 and still released annually, was actually directed toward a specific—and secretive—audience. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian Magazine, "This Interactive Map Visualizes the Queer Geography of 20th-Century America," 9 Mar. 2020 Each delegate will receive a ballot specific to them. Fox News, "Questions hang over Democrats’ shift to virtual convention," 14 July 2020 But again, the general case here might differ from the specific. Adam Rogers, Wired, "No, You Don't Need to See President Trump's Medical Records," 19 June 2020 But the specific, and varying, solutions depend on the municipalities and businesses. Marc Bona, cleveland, "Is outdoor dining the future for restaurants in Northeast Ohio?," 8 June 2020 On the subject of taking action against Ford, Nessel did not go into specifics, but warned the automaker that Thursday's visit could have jeopardized the safety of its employees. Allyson Chiu, Anchorage Daily News, "Trump bashes Michigan AG after she calls him ‘a petulant child’ for refusing to wear mask," 22 May 2020

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for specific

Time Traveler

The first known use of specific was circa 1631

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Statistics for specific

Last Updated

25 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Specific.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/specific. Accessed 28 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for specific


How to pronounce -specific (audio)

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

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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

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Comments on specific

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