spec·​i·​fy | \ ˈspe-sə-ˌfī \
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 \ adjective
specifier \ ˈspe-​sə-​ˌfī(-​ə)r \ noun

Synonyms for specify


define, lay down, prescribe

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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

Gillum did not specify in his concession speech what his future plans might entail. Caroline Houck, Vox, "Andrew Gillum concedes Florida gubernatorial race," 17 Nov. 2018 Barnes & Noble said the board chose to terminate Parneros under advisement by the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, without specifying what prompted the action. Matt Townsend, BostonGlobe.com, "Barnes & Noble fires CEO without severance pay," 3 July 2018 Barnes & Noble said the board chose to terminate Parneros at the advice of the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, without specifying what prompted the action. Bloomberg, latimes.com, "Barnes & Noble fires its CEO without severance pay," 3 July 2018 The task force said other political parties have also had their accounts frozen, without specifying. Ranjeetha Pakiam, Bloomberg.com, "Najib Says Freezing of 1MDB-Linked Bank Accounts Unreasonable," 30 June 2018 For example, both list anonymous donors without specifying the size of their gifts. Jeffrey Mervis, Science | AAAS, "U.S. lawmakers want NIH and CDC foundations to say more about donors," 29 June 2018 HealthPartners also requires patients to try and fail three medications, such as beta blockers and antidepressants, without specifying for how long. Alessandra Potenza, The Verge, "To save money, my insurance company forced me to try drugs that didn’t work," 22 June 2018 Alongside the goalkeeper, Ezzat named two other players -- defender Omar Hosawi and striker Mohammed al-Sahlawi -- without specifying what action would be taken. Afp, chicagotribune.com, "Saudi authorities to hold players 'accountable' after Russia loss," 15 June 2018 Four bullet points laid out goals of future talks without specifying the immediate steps either side had to take. Time, "Kim Jong Un Vows Major Change at U.S.-North Korea Summit," 12 June 2018

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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Statistics for specify

Last Updated

8 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for specify

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

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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 \
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

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More from Merriam-Webster on specify

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for specify

Spanish Central: Translation of specify

Nglish: Translation of specify for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of specify for Arabic Speakers

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).


to express emotion in a dramatic way

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