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

Some specimens seem to be more likely to produce them than others even under identical situations. Neil Sperry, San Antonio Express-News, "What’s the story with morning glories not blooming?," 29 June 2018 Taxidermy, succulents and curious natural specimens. Natasha Bourlin, SFChronicle.com, "Increasingly hip Midtown Reno has a glow that’s not from neon," 29 June 2018 The temporary exhibit includes more than 200 whole or partial body specimens that display the intricacies of bones, nerves, organs and muscles. Sonja Haller, azcentral, "Best kids things to do in Phoenix in July: Splash pad parties, shark feeds and free fun," 28 June 2018 For 30 days in a row, Alyssa sampled, or collected, a fecal specimen from April’s stall. Fox News, "April the giraffe may be pregnant again," 21 June 2018 In the hands of the scientists, the glowing fish go into specimen jars on shelves somewhere and continue to glow long after what would be natural. Kevin Dupzyk, Popular Mechanics, "Unseen Oceans: How the American Museum of Natural History Builds a New Exhibit," 21 June 2018 Lady Liberty — a 2,000-year old specimen clocking in at 88 feet — is among the park icons that remain. A.d. Thompson, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Longwood Neighborhood Guide," 21 June 2018 The sequence looks great—the cinematographer, Oscar Faura, makes most of the movie look great—but contains a bizarre bafflement; one prominently exotic specimen goes for a winning bid of $10 million. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, "‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’ Review: Reasonably Edible and Credible," 20 June 2018 What the company does: With a diverse collection of more than 1,600 animals representing over 500 species and over 3,000 botanical specimens, the zoo has changed a passive visit into dynamic interaction and engaging experience. Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati.com, "Top Workplaces Cincinnati: Here's our region's best 45 midsize companies," 7 June 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

7 Sep 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

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the setting in which something occurs

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