spec·​i·​men | \ˈspes-mən, ˈspe-sə-\

Definition of specimen 

1a : 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

2a : 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

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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

Many labs are still squeezing new science out of the Apollo lunar samples decades later, as improving techniques and instruments allow investigators to reanalyze old specimens. Jeremy Hsu, Scientific American, "Japan’s Hayabusa2 Spacecraft Nears Its Target, the Asteroid Ryugu," 26 June 2018 Over the years, the scientists have found that big African baobab specimens always have multiple stems. Amina Khan, latimes.com, "Africa's baobab trees can live for more than 1,000 years, but the oldest and largest of them are dying," 11 June 2018 Helicopters are sometimes used to carry very large specimens, but that happens rarely, only if the scientists are able to secure a lot of funding through grants. Alessandra Potenza, The Verge, "Digging mammoths in the Arctic isn’t as pretty and sci-fi as this new Lego set suggests," 21 May 2018 The paleontologists, from the University of Kansas, found the specimens in Hell Creek, an area known for its plethora of fossils. Sophie Weiner, Popular Mechanics, ""One in a Million" Young T. Rex Fossil Found in Montana," 30 Mar. 2018 Plant perennial lupine from small, nursery grown specimens as soon as the ground can be worked this spring. Maureen Gilmer, idahostatesman, "Lupine is tailor-made for gardens in the West," 7 Feb. 2018 Like his pressed plant specimens from the Elgin, preserved in the collection of the New York Botanical Garden’s Steere Herbarium, his legacy persists. Marta Mcdowell, New York Times, "Deep Below Rockefeller Center Lies a Legendary Botanical Garden," 25 June 2018 Its first collected specimen is in St. Petersburg, Russia, writes Ritter. Leah Garchik, SFChronicle.com, "Does Patti LuPone forgive Andrew Lloyd Webber?," 18 June 2018 Bouchet sent Fallon 4,300 specimens collected during a 2016 expedition to the Caribbean island of Martinique. Michael Stone, Discover Magazine, "The Animal Collective," 9 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'specimen.' 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 specimen

1610, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for specimen

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

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Statistics for specimen

Last Updated

2 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for specimen

The first known use of specimen was in 1610

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English Language Learners Definition of specimen

: something (such as an animal or plant) collected as an example of a particular kind of thing

: a small amount or piece of something that can be tested or examined

: a notable example of something


spec·​i·​men | \ˈspe-sə-mən \

Kids Definition of specimen

1 : something collected as a sample or for examination

2 : a notable example of something The cathedral is a magnificent specimen of medieval architecture.

3 : an example of a type of person … the specimen of the British nobility present happened to be the most ordinary man of the party.— Louisa May Alcott, Little Women


spec·​i·​men | \ˈspes-(ə-)mən \

Medical Definition of specimen 

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on specimen

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for specimen

Spanish Central: Translation of specimen

Nglish: Translation of specimen for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of specimen for Arabic Speakers

Comments on specimen

What made you want to look up specimen? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


obstinately defiant of authority

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