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 specifiable (audio) \ adjective
specifier \ ˈspe-​sə-​ˌfī(-​ə)r How to pronounce specifier (audio) \ 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Jennifer Ciaccia did not specify whether an officer fatally shot Harris. Evan Macdonald, cleveland, "Medical examiner identifies homicide suspect dead after shootout with Cleveland police," 15 Nov. 2019 The numbers provided by JCPS through a public records request do not specify how many incidents occurred on campus. Ben Tobin, The Courier-Journal, "JCPS student arrested after gun found in backpack, officials say," 12 Nov. 2019 Police did not specify what or who the man was suspected of robbing. Christopher Roth, azcentral, "Phoenix police shoot armed robbery suspect," 11 Nov. 2019 The poster didn’t specify which models would be getting the app, however. Michael Simon, PCWorld, "The best Pixel 4 feature is coming to older phones—and it has nothing to do with the camera," 1 Nov. 2019 Google declined to specify what policies were violated. Kate Conger, New York Times, "Twitter Will Ban All Political Ads, C.E.O. Jack Dorsey Says," 30 Oct. 2019 The company's post also didn't specify what guidelines will be used in determining what filters will and won't be approved. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Instagram Filters with Plastic Surgery-Inspired Effects Could Soon Disappear," 22 Oct. 2019 Blumhouse did not specify which actors will play which roles, though other outlets suggest Jenner will portray Franklin. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, "Richard Linklater adapting Sondheim musical over 20 years with Beanie Feldstein, Ben Platt," 30 Aug. 2019 Gill declined to specify what kind of financial turmoil the couple may have been experiencing, citing the ongoing investigation. Nick Ibarra, The Mercury News, "Argument over financial issues a factor in Santa Cruz County stabbing death, prosecutor says," 29 Aug. 2019

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

29 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Specify.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/specify. Accessed 12 December 2019.

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More Definitions for specify


How to pronounce specify (audio)

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

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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).


a period of high artistic development

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