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

Those children are in their care in Michigan and Maryland, and officials declined to specify how many were in each state. Ian Duncan, baltimoresun.com, "At least one of the youngest migrant children sent to Maryland will be reunited with family by court deadline," 10 July 2018 Baer declined to specify how many scooters will be deployed in Indianapolis due to competition reasons. Ethan May, Indianapolis Star, "Here's what you should know about Bird electric scooters, now available in Indianapolis," 15 June 2018 Cooper declined to specify at which schools these incidents occurred. Philly.com, "'Enough is enough': Philly school unions boiling over assaults on staff," 15 June 2018 Burrows declined to specify which kind of tuberculosis the employee has, what the employee's job is, how that person contracted tuberculosis or any other details that might identify who the caregiver is. Molly Harbarger, OregonLive.com, "Providence notifies patients at risk of tuberculosis after caregiver diagnosed," 26 Apr. 2018 The agency could require more stringent age-verification for kid-friendly flavors, for example — although the statement didn’t specify what that would mean. Rachel Becker, The Verge, "FDA asks e-cigarette giants to help regulate themselves," 31 Oct. 2018 The original instructions don't specify how to make the turning mechanism, so here's our idea: find a thin dowel and slightly larger-diameter PVC pipe that the dowel can slide into and rotate in comfortably. Lara Sorokanich, Popular Mechanics, "4 Great Halloween Costumes From the PM Archives," 11 Oct. 2018 Griffith even shared an Instagram video of the balloons floating over Malibu, but didn't specify the occasion. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Did Dakota Johnson and Chris Martin Just Host a Gender Reveal Party?," 8 Oct. 2018 Most of those killed were likely the players on the Humboldt Broncos hockey team, who were between 16 and 20 years old -- though the Royal Canadian Mounted Police [RCMP] would not specify how many of the fatalities were players. Fox News, "Crash of hockey team's bus leaves at least 15 dead, town devastated," 2 Oct. 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

13 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

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).


living or existing for a long time

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