specimen

noun

spec·​i·​men ˈspes-mən How to pronounce specimen (audio)
ˈspe-sə-
1
a
: an individual, item, or part considered typical of a group, class, or whole
b
: a portion or quantity of material for use in testing, examination, or study
a urine specimen
2
a
: something that obviously belongs to a particular category but is noticed by reason of an individual distinguishing characteristic
b
: person, individual
he's a tough specimen
3
: a plant grown for exhibition or in the open to display its full development
specimen trees
Choose the Right Synonym for specimen

instance, case, illustration, example, sample, specimen mean something that exhibits distinguishing characteristics in its category.

instance applies to any individual person, act, or thing that may be offered to illustrate or explain.

an instance of history repeating itself

case is used to direct attention to a real or assumed occurrence or situation that is to be considered, studied, or dealt with.

a case of mistaken identity

illustration applies to an instance offered as a means of clarifying or illuminating a general statement.

a telling illustration of Murphy's Law

example applies to a typical, representative, or illustrative instance or case.

a typical example of bureaucratic waste

sample implies a part or unit taken at random from a larger whole and so presumed to be typical of its qualities.

show us a sample of your work

specimen applies to any example or sample whether representative or merely existent and available.

one of the finest specimens of the jeweler's art

Examples of specimen in a Sentence

The church is a magnificent specimen of baroque architecture. Her dance partner is a superb physical specimen.
Recent Examples on the Web The specimens had been collected in 1937 in Yenangyaung but were not identified until they were found in 1964. Moira Ritter, Miami Herald, 9 Feb. 2024 Analysis of the specimens suggested that after a cooling period spurred by volcanic eruptions, ocean temperatures began to warm more than originally thought—about 0.5 degrees Celsius greater—in the mid-1800s. Christian Thorsberg, Smithsonian Magazine, 7 Feb. 2024 The area these particular specimens called home is uniquely situated to tell us about ocean temperatures globally, said Amos Winter, a professor of earth and environmental systems at Indiana State University who worked on the study. Raymond Zhong, New York Times, 5 Feb. 2024 Though this study relied on the collection of specimens by multiple taxonomists, one in particular played a large part. Julia Daye, Sacramento Bee, 31 Jan. 2024 Flathead trips won’t often produce big catch numbers, but specimens in the 15-to-20-pound range are common, and fish exceeding 30 pounds are possible. Jordan Rodriguez, Idaho Statesman, 31 Jan. 2024 The specimens are intended to highlight the value of natural history and collections, especially as our environment shifts. Pam Kragen, San Diego Union-Tribune, 19 Jan. 2024 From the earliest phases of testing and clinical trials on animals, models have historically been based on male specimens. Lucy Perez, Fortune, 17 Jan. 2024 In all, about 310 deep-sea specimens were collected across the June and December expeditions and taken to the Museum of Zoology at the University of Costa Rica. Christian Thorsberg, Smithsonian Magazine, 31 Jan. 2024 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

Latin, from specere to look at, look — more at spy

First Known Use

1610, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of specimen was in 1610

Dictionary Entries Near specimen

Cite this Entry

“Specimen.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/specimen. Accessed 20 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

specimen

noun
spec·​i·​men ˈspes-(ə-)mən How to pronounce specimen (audio)
1
: a part or a single thing that shows what the whole thing or group is like : sample
2
: a portion of material for use in testing or examination
a blood specimen
3
: person sense 1, individual
he's a tough specimen

Medical Definition

specimen

noun
spec·​i·​men ˈspes-(ə-)mən How to pronounce specimen (audio)
1
: an individual, item, or part typical of a group, class, or whole
2
: a portion or quantity of material for use in testing, examination, or study
a urine specimen

More from Merriam-Webster on specimen

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