spe·​cial | \ ˈspe-shəl How to pronounce special (audio) \

Definition of special

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : distinguished by some unusual quality especially : being in some way superior our special blend
2 : held in particular esteem a special friend
3a : readily distinguishable from others of the same category : unique they set it apart as a special day of thanksgiving
b : of, relating to, or constituting a species : specific
4 : being other than the usual : additional, extra
5 : designed for a particular purpose or occasion



Definition of special (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : one that is used for a special service or occasion caught the commuter special to work
2 : something (such as a television program) that is not part of a regular series
3 : a featured dish at a restaurant the specials of the day

Other Words from special


specialness noun

Synonyms for special

Synonyms: Adjective

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Choose the Right Synonym for special


special, especial, specific, particular, individual mean of or relating to one thing or class. special stresses having a quality, character, identity, or use of its own. special ingredients especial may add implications of preeminence or preference. a matter of especial importance specific implies a quality or character distinguishing a kind or a species. children with specific nutritional needs particular stresses the distinctness of something as an individual. a ballet step of particular difficulty individual implies unequivocal reference to one of a class or group. valued each individual opinion

Examples of special in a Sentence

Adjective This is a special case and I want you to handle it personally. Only under special circumstances will you be allowed to retake the test. Your many years of service put you in a special category. Why should you receive any special treatment? It takes a special quality to do what he did. This is a very special occasion. Are you doing anything special over the holidays? We have a special guest tonight—the mayor. No one is more special to me than my wife. He always made her feel special. Noun a one-hour special on whales Today's lunch special is chili. The specials are on the board. They were having a special on paper towels so I stocked up. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Brian Blase is the president of Paragon Health Institute and former special assistant for economic policy to President Donald Trump at the National Economic Council. Brian Blase, STAT, 14 May 2022 The first trial resulting from special counsel John Durham's investigation of the early days of the Trump-Russia probe hardly seems an explosive affair. Eric Tucker, ajc, 14 May 2022 On April 11, LeAnn had a special message when asked about her relationship with Brandi. Rebecca Norris, Country Living, 14 May 2022 Eurovision, for all its oddities, maintains a special place in the cultural calendar. Rob Picheta, CNN, 14 May 2022 If your baby is on a special formula because of allergies, sensitivities, or issues with a previous formula, always talk to your pediatrician before switching. Stefani Sassos, Ms, Rdn, Cso, Cdn, Nasm-cpt, Good Housekeeping, 14 May 2022 On the other hand, gas grills are more predictable—but won't infuse that same special, smoky taste into your food. Audrey Bruno, SELF, 14 May 2022 But for its 70 mm Film Festival, cut short in March 2020 by the pandemic, the theater’s special 37-foot rectangle of dreams, used for epically wide occasions, gets hauled out of storage and placed, carefully, near the lip of the Music Box stage. Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune, 14 May 2022 The House is constitutionally obligated to meet no later than Sunday, and the Legislature has until May 18 to pass a budget, or lawmakers may be forced to enter a special session. Nathaniel Herz, Anchorage Daily News, 14 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The one-hour benefit special, produced by iHeartMedia and P&G, will stream on June 14 at 8 p.m. Thania Garcia, Variety, 11 May 2022 Her show will be available as an ITV special, An Audience With Adele, beginning November 21. Hilary Weaver, ELLE, 11 May 2022 Criss and Hough will kick off coverage of the Tonys, which will be a four-hour event in total, in the special, which will feature multiple awards and performances. Kimberly Nordyke, The Hollywood Reporter, 11 May 2022 After last September’s awards-slash-concert special—as much a celebration of the shows that managed to open before COVID-19 descended as a tribute to the theater community at large—the 2022 Tonys are set to be a full-force affair. Vogue, 9 May 2022 Keep going from Girdwood through the tunnel to Whittier and take advantage of a special at Phillips Cruises and Tours — the 26 Glacier Cruise. Scott Mcmurren, Anchorage Daily News, 7 May 2022 Prior to the new special, Carmichael, a thirty-five-year-old native of North Carolina, was already one of the most idiosyncratic comics working today. Bryan Washington, The New Yorker, 12 Apr. 2022 The event will feature a special: a free passionfruit green tea, for customers who spend at least $10 at the store. Annie Nickoloff, cleveland, 11 Apr. 2022 Late last year, Carlile performed Mitchell’s groundbreaking album Blue in its entirety for a one-night special at Carnegie Hall. Lyndsey Havens, Billboard, 3 Apr. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'special.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of special


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1822, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for special


Middle English, from Anglo-French or Latin; Anglo-French especial, from Latin specialis individual, particular, from species species

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Time Traveler for special

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near special



special ability

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Last Updated

16 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Special.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/special. Accessed 20 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for special


spe·​cial | \ ˈspe-shəl How to pronounce special (audio) \

Kids Definition of special

1 : unusual and better in some way : extraordinary a special occasion To an outsider, it wouldn't sound all that special. But to the ears of a Pickwell kid, it was magic.— Jerry Spinelli, Maniac Magee
2 : liked very well a special friend
3 : different from others : unique a special case
4 : extra entry 1 a special edition
5 : meant for a particular purpose or occasion a special diet

Other Words from special

specially adverb



Legal Definition of special

1 : distinguished by some unusual quality
2 : relating to a single thing or class of things : having an individual character or trait owed them a special duty not owed to the public at large
3a : supplemental to the regular
b : assigned or provided to meet a need not covered under established procedures
4 : designed or selected for a particular purpose, occasion, or other end family courts are courts of limited and special jurisdictionCleveland v. Cleveland, 559 P.2d 744 (1977)
5 : containing particulars and details a special pleading

Other Words from special

specially adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on special

Nglish: Translation of special for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of special for Arabic Speakers


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