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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from specify

specifiable \ ˌspe-​sə-​ˈfī-​ə-​bəl \ adjective
specifier \ ˈspe-​sə-​ˌfī(-​ə)r \ 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

Pharmaceutical companies are now required in ads to specify side effects to drugs but not to describe what the medicine costs. Carolyn Y. Johnson, The Seattle Times, "Drugmakers may have to disclose prices of medicine in television ads," 15 Oct. 2018 The resolution doesn’t specify any penalties if the documents aren’t delivered. Billy House, Bloomberg.com, "Rosenstein Faces Vote in U.S. House on GOP Demands for Documents," 26 June 2018 The USA Today story didn’t specify whether the students would have to pay for the devices. Kevin Kelleher, Fortune, "Alexa Goes to College: Northeastern University Giving Echo Dots to Students," 20 June 2018 The skimpy communique from the summit commits Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to lead a process with a North Korean official to be named later, at a time and place to be specified. Heather Hurlburt, Daily Intelligencer, "These Are the Questions Foreign-Policy Experts Are Asking About the Trump-Kim Summit," 13 June 2018 The law goes on to specify that signal lamps showing to the front of a vehicle must display only white or amber light, or any shade of color between white and amber. Justin L. Mack, Indianapolis Star, "Make sure your headlights comply with this new Indiana law, starting July 1," 13 June 2018 While Gift of Life isn't able to specify what type of drugs were involved in donor deaths, the increase in donors who died from drug overdose mirrors the increase in the number of deaths from opioids. Georgea Kovanis, Detroit Free Press, "More opioid overdose deaths mean more organs for transplants," 4 June 2018 The survivors are asking for monetary damages, though the lawsuit does not specify an amount. Gal Tziperman Lotan, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Police and city violated civil rights by not going after Pulse shooter, lawsuit claims," 7 June 2018 Policies that ban all fraternization without specifying romantic relationships may also violate the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) which protects the right of employees to meet and organize for mutual support. Anchorage Daily News, "I’m dating a coworker who I don’t work with directly. Can my company legally require us to stop?," 7 May 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about specify

Statistics for specify

Last Updated

15 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for specify

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


something that serves to warn or remind

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Autumn Words of the Day 2018

  • a-top-down-image-of-road-through-an-autumn-forest
  • Which is a synonym of fugacious?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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