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

transitive verb

: to name or state explicitly or in detail
: to include as an item in a specification
specifiable adjective
specifier noun

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Representatives at the networks did not comment or specify a return date for the programs. Stephen Battaglio, Los Angeles Times, 27 Sep. 2023 Police have not specified the cost of the damage to the stores. Ben Brasch, Washington Post, 27 Sep. 2023 Meta did not specify a release date for the image editing tools. WIRED, 27 Sep. 2023 Per Harrison, the details of the distribution deal specified that the film would be theirs again after a certain amount of time. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 27 Sep. 2023 But the guidelines do not specify what the benchmarks should be, leaving each hospital to choose its own criteria. Apoorva Mandavilli, New York Times, 23 Sep. 2023 When questioned, the board referenced new state code that specifies notifications of fee increases are not required unless the increase constitutes a 20% or higher increase. Kelly G. Richardson, San Diego Union-Tribune, 23 Sep. 2023 Eero didn’t specify how much channel bandwidth the router can support, but the Wi-Fi 7 spec offers 320MHz channels. Wes Davis, The Verge, 21 Sep. 2023 Officials did not further specify the location of the debris field. CBS News, 18 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'specify.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near specify

Cite this Entry

“Specify.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/specify. Accessed 2 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


spec·​i·​fy ˈspes-ə-ˌfī How to pronounce specify (audio)
specified; specifying
: to name or mention exactly and clearly
specify the cause
: to include in a specification
specify oak flooring

More from Merriam-Webster on specify

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!