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

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

The execution, Grissom said, can vary; some performers are excited to take off their clothes, some are nervous, some unwilling — which, all the producers were quick to specify, is respected — and some have no idea how to fit it into their set. Nicole Blackwood, chicagotribune.com, "'Strip Joker' bares all in body-positive comedy show," 11 June 2019 As umps began to get graded based on their adherence to the zones specified by tracking systems, though, pitchers stopped getting strike calls on balls that batters couldn’t hit. Ben Lindbergh And Travis Sawchik, SI.com, "How MLB Washout Brian Bannister Became the Red Sox' Pitching Guru," 7 June 2019 Country Club Hills was awarded nearly $2 million, with $758,525 specified for roadways, $295,000 for water mains, $250,000 for recreational facilities, $250,000 for other infrastructure and $200,000 toward demolition of Windsor Estates. Ted Slowik, Daily Southtown, "Slowik: Towns may have to wait years to get funds through Rebuild Illinois capital plan," 6 June 2019 With the days dwindling before President Trump's threatened tariffs on Mexican goods kick in Monday, the White House has yet to specify what targets Mexico must reach in order to avoid the tariffs. Kathryn Watson, CBS News, "Talks with Mexico continue without clear targets for avoiding tariffs," 6 June 2019 The proposal would add a new section to the student code of conduct to specify off campus conduct that substantially disrupts school activities could result in a student being sent to alternative school or expelled. al.com, "Hoover trying to end hate speech that disrupts school," 4 June 2019 The Asahi newspaper also reported that the government decided against an outright ban on workplace harassment because of the difficulty in specifying what actions constitute as harassment. Isabella Steger, Quartz at Work, "Japan finally passed laws to prevent “pawa hara,” or workplace bullying," 30 May 2019 This story has been edited to specify the area granted to Eritrea by the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission in 2002. The Christian Science Monitor, "Corrections," 4 Mar. 2019 Toss potato tots, olive oil, garlic powder on a baking sheet; roast at temperature specified on package 25 minutes. Taylor Murray, Lauren Akins, Country Living, "Parmesan Tots With Dipping Sauce," 22 May 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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Statistics for specify

Last Updated

14 Jun 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 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

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