spe·​cial·​ize ˈspe-shə-ˌlīz How to pronounce specialize (audio)
specialized; specializing
: to concentrate one's efforts in a special activity, field, or practice
a doctor who specializes in pediatrics
an attorney who specializes in estate planning
Everywhere, the pressure is on young people to specialize.Donald Kaul
: to have a characteristic, habitual way of behaving, speaking, etc.
… the halftime commentator on ESPN 2, who specialized in inanities throughout the tournament …Jonathan Wilson
… a computer industry that seems to specialize in simultaneous hype and obfuscation …Walter S. Mossberg
The anti-environmental presidency was orchestrated by administration insiders who have specialized in being out of touch …Gregg Easterbrook
intransitive biology : to undergo specialization (see specialization sense 2) or differentiation
As cells begin to specialize into adult tissues, methylation seems to inactivate genes that are no longer needed.John Travis
especially : to change adaptively
… diversity comes about because each different fish has to specialize, to find its own niche where it can do better than its competitors. Kenneth E. F. Watt
transitive : to apply or direct (something or someone) to a specific end, use, or specialty
specialized their study
… media are evolving so quickly that education of the future will probably be forced to specialize students in one or another media-type, no longer producing a single "literate" man.Henry G. Burger
Even some small police departments have seen fit to specialize their investigative units …Daniel S. McDevitt
transitive dated : to make particular mention of (something) : specify, particularize
… Edward dares not specialize what alone he dreads.Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Examples of specialize in a Sentence

Some carpenters do a wide range of jobs, while others specialize.
Recent Examples on the Web The unit specializes in recruiting Russian fighters and running agents on Russian territory to carry out sabotage missions. José Bautista, New York Times, 31 Mar. 2024 Step Afrika!, as its name implies, specializes in stepping, a dance form that originated and still thrives at Black fraternities and sororities. Patrick Neas, Kansas City Star, 29 Mar. 2024 The hotel features their signature Anantara spa, which specializes in oriental therapies and treatments based on local ingredients. Michele Robson, Forbes, 28 Mar. 2024 This healthcare provider specializes in reproductive health and pregnancy. Wendy Wisner, Health, 27 Mar. 2024 Latu specializes in hand-to-hand combat, features a pro-ready arsenal of pass-rush moves and became the first Bruin to win the Lombardi Award (outstanding lineman) and Hendricks Award (best defensive end) last season. Eddie Brown, San Diego Union-Tribune, 20 Mar. 2024 Goodbye Kansas specializes in creating trailers for games worldwide and visual effects for live-action productions. Naman Ramachandran, Variety, 19 Mar. 2024 Sara Maciel, a travel advisor for Carry on the Magic, specializes in booking Walt Disney World vacations. Jacqueline Dole, Travel + Leisure, 19 Mar. 2024 Regular presences at major film festivals, the two women have specialized in documentary, international, genre and independent films of both the theatrical and streaming variety. Scott Feinberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 18 Mar. 2024

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

Word History

First Known Use

1616, in the meaning defined at sense 4

Time Traveler
The first known use of specialize was in 1616

Dictionary Entries Near specialize

Cite this Entry

“Specialize.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/specialize. Accessed 15 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


spe·​cial·​ize ˈspesh-ə-ˌlīz How to pronounce specialize (audio)
specialized; specializing
: to limit one's attention or energy to one business, subject, or study
: to undergo specialization

Medical Definition


intransitive verb
variants also British specialise
specialized also British specialised; specializing also British specialising
: to concentrate one's efforts in a special activity or field : become or be a specialist
specialize in anesthesiology
: to undergo evolutionary specialization

More from Merriam-Webster on specialize

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