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

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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


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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


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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Other companies have gone further and detailed the specific race and gender of directors in their proxy statements. Washington Post, "U.S. consumer spending rose in July," 31 Aug. 2019 Always walk into the room with an agenda (and stick to it) and don't walk out of the meeting without getting broad participation and having clear calls of action with specific deadlines. Kathryn Vasel, CNN, "Workplace communication is crucial: Here's how to do it better," 30 Aug. 2019 This is in its preliminary stage, so location and specific times will be decided once organizers understand how many people are interested. courant.com, "Community News For The Windsor Edition," 30 Aug. 2019 However, only 23 states have specific state or county laws that require an official background check on person to person sales, according to Findlaw. Christopher Harress | Charress@al.com, al, "Covert Facebook gun sales in the Southeast present new problems for law enforcement," 30 Aug. 2019 The number of citations for those specific behaviors are also distressingly low. Heather Knight, SFChronicle.com, "Deaths on SF’s streets are up. Traffic enforcement is down. ‘It’s hard to believe these aren’t related’," 30 Aug. 2019 For one, there are significant generational differences, even crossing party lines, around specific climate questions such as fossil fuel use. Elliot Haspel, The New Republic, "Millennial Parents Are Failing Their Children," 30 Aug. 2019 These circuits accept energy in specific amounts; if a phonon’s energy matches, the circuit can absorb it—destroying the phonon but giving an energy reading of its presence. Leila Sloman, Scientific American, "Trapping the Tiniest Sound," 30 Aug. 2019 This collaboration, which started at the very beginning of the project, led to a work process that was extremely demanding and specific. Colleen Kratofil, PEOPLE.com, "Dior Faces Cultural Appropriation Backlash for Native American-Inspired 'Sauvage' Fragrance Campaign," 30 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Among Republicans, 10 said yes – though some said more tweaks are necessary – and 40 were either unsure or wanted to know more specifics about the legislation before weighing in. Jessie Balmert, Cincinnati.com, "Would Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine's 'red flag' proposal pass the Ohio legislature? We asked every lawmaker.," 16 Aug. 2019 When asked for specifics about what's been accomplished, Tanner said much of the work has involved making the site safe, but other details about the investigation remained confidential. Perry Vandell, azcentral, "First report on Surprise APS battery explosion that hospitalized firefighters offers few answers," 9 Aug. 2019 Patients can also expect to learn the specifics about the procedure, including details on anesthesia options, recovery, and post-op care. Kaitlin Clark, Allure, "Everything You Need to Know About Liposuction Surgery," 30 July 2019 The mayor didn’t provide specifics about the college promise, including sources of funding or possible limitations. USA TODAY, "Record grapefruit, light rail win, Snake Road: News from around our 50 states," 29 Aug. 2019 Many researchers have assumed that an organism’s microbiome is somehow seeded from the environment, but few had delved into the specifics. Elizabeth Pennisi, Science | AAAS, "No microbiome is an island, unprecedented survey of Hawaiian valley reveals," 28 Aug. 2019 Sponsor will attempt to accommodate winner's preferred itinerary, but all specifics thereof will be at Sponsor's sole discretion. Kwasi Boadi, Billboard, ""The Crowd Control Contest" Sponsored by Billboard, a division of MRC Media, LLC ("Sponsor")," 24 Aug. 2019 The collaboration was announced at a roundtable discussion co-hosted by the UCLA School of Law and UC Berkeley School of Law, though statements following the session didn’t get into specifics. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Climate change and California’s coming insurance crisis," 28 July 2019 Prak said the sheriff’s office provided no specifics about the murder to her, either. Jason Pohl, ProPublica, "Deadly Delays in Jail Construction Cost Lives and Dollars Across California," 20 July 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.

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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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Statistics for specific

Last Updated

17 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for specific

The first known use of specific was circa 1631

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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

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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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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).


authorized for issue (as a bond)

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