spec·​i·​fy | \ ˈspe-sə-ˌfī How to pronounce specify (audio) \
specified; specifying

Definition of specify

transitive verb

1 : to name or state explicitly or in detail
2 : to include as an item in a specification

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Other Words from specify

specifiable \ ˌspe-​sə-​ˈfī-​ə-​bəl How to pronounce specify (audio) \ adjective
specifier \ ˈspe-​sə-​ˌfī(-​ə)r How to pronounce specify (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for specify


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Examples of specify in a Sentence

Can you specify the cause of the argument? Specify the color and quantity when you order. He clearly specified California wine. The instructions do not specify what kind of screws to use. All subscriptions are for one year unless otherwise specified. At the specified time, we rang the bell. She agreed to the terms specified in the contract.
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Recent Examples on the Web The legislation was written to specify — and restrict — who could win such a license. Michelle L. Price And Michael Balsamo, chicagotribune.com, "How the Matt Gaetz investigation grew from sex trafficking to medical pot," 1 May 2021 The legislation was written to specify — and restrict — who could win such a license. Fox News, "How the Gaetz probe grew from sex trafficking to medical pot," 1 May 2021 The policy doesn’t articulate how a player formally undertakes the process of declaring their gender to meet this requirement, and also doesn’t specify how this would apply to nonbinary athletes. Julia Poe, orlandosentinel.com, "NWSL releases policy on transgender athletes," 1 Apr. 2021 The new bill also would specify that corporate political spending in support of Ohio ballot issues, not just political candidates, must be disclosed to the state. Andrew J. Tobias, cleveland, "Ohio campaign-finance reform bill gets first look since emergence of dark money scandal," 25 Mar. 2021 The data release doesn’t indicate whether the vaccines went to workers or prisoners and also doesn’t specify where the shots were administered, how many people refused, or any demographic information. Laura Crimaldi, BostonGlobe.com, "Prison, jail inmates are starting to receive COVID-19 vaccines. Some are passing on the offer," 22 Jan. 2021 The report also did not specify to which groups the two are believed to be linked. Mike Brest, Washington Examiner, "A dozen National Guardsmen removed from inauguration over militia links, but no plot against Biden found: Report," 19 Jan. 2021 For women, the post might also specify their weight, body type and complexion. Manveena Suri, CNN, "India's attitude to arranged marriage is changing. But some say not fast enough," 18 Nov. 2020 The new rules also specify that the degree must be in a directly relevant field, meaning applicants for a job as a computer programmer likely couldn’t have a degree in economics or engineering. Michelle Hackman, WSJ, "New Rules for H-1B Visas: What You Need to Know," 7 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'specify.' 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 specify

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for specify

Middle English specifien, from Anglo-French specifier, from Late Latin specificare, from specificus

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Time Traveler for specify

Time Traveler

The first known use of specify was in the 14th century

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Statistics for specify

Last Updated

3 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Specify.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/specify. Accessed 13 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for specify



English Language Learners Definition of specify

: to name or mention (someone or something) exactly and clearly : to be specific about (something)


spec·​i·​fy | \ ˈspe-sə-ˌfī How to pronounce specify (audio) \
specified; specifying

Kids Definition of specify

1 : to mention or name exactly and clearly Can you specify the cause of the crash?
2 : to include in a description of work to be done or materials to be used

Comments on specify

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


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