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[spesh-uh-lahyz] /ˈspɛʃ əˌlaɪz/
verb (used without object), specialized, specializing.
to pursue some special line of study, work, etc.; have a specialty:
The doctor specializes in gastroenterology.
Biology. (of an organism or one of its organs) to be adapted to a special function or environment.
verb (used with object), specialized, specializing.
to render special or specific; invest with a special character, function, etc.
to adapt to special conditions; restrict to specific limits.
to restrict payment of (a negotiable instrument) by endorsing over to a specific payee.
to specify; particularize.
Also, especially British, specialise.
Origin of specialize
From the French word spécialiser, dating back to 1605-15. See special, -ize
Related forms
specialization, noun
nonspecialized, adjective
nonspecializing, adjective
overspecialize, verb, overspecialized, overspecializing.
prespecialize, verb (used without object), prespecialized, prespecializing.
subspecialize, verb, subspecialized, subspecializing.
superspecialize, verb (used without object), superspecialized, superspecializing.
unspecialized, adjective
unspecializing, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for specialise
Historical Examples
  • Would it not be preferable that workers in the field of history should specialise?

  • They specialise in that brand of junk, and they're in the popular market at the moment, too.

  • I think it is certain that the way to get most enjoyment from books is to specialise a little.

    The Private Library Arthur L. Humphreys
  • But the art of the founder-engraver was destined to specialise itself.

    The Printed Book Henri Bouchot
  • There are officers who specialise in this perilous and wonderful business.

    Canada in Flanders, Volume I (of 3) Lord Max Aitken Beaverbrook
  • He is not even quite sure what he wants to specialise on, or if he wants to specialise at all.

    The Squire's Daughter Archibald Marshall
  • I did not specialise individuals, possibly because Radley was one.

    Tell England Ernest Raymond
  • And for you who specialise in intimacy and the unexpected, it is simply disgraceful.

    Balloons Elizabeth Bibesco
  • Zulu doctors, who specialise as heaven-herds, fight the Thunderstorm with spear and shield until he flees away.

  • She was not a bit like the polite young lady above, who seemed to specialise in noisy tipplers.

    The Pretty Lady

    Arnold E. Bennett
British Dictionary definitions for specialise


(intransitive) to train in or devote oneself to a particular area of study, occupation, or activity
(usually passive) to cause (organisms or their parts) to develop in a way most suited to a particular environment or way of life or (of organisms, etc) to develop in this way
(transitive) to modify or make suitable for a special use or purpose
(transitive) to mention specifically; specify
(transitive) to endorse (a commercial paper) to a specific payee
Derived Forms
specialization, specialisation, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for specialise



1610s, "to indicate specially," from special + -ize. Sense of "engage in a special study or line of business" is first attested 1881; biological sense is from 1851. Related: Specialized; specializing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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specialise in Medicine

specialize spe·cial·ize (spěsh'ə-līz')
v. spe·cial·ized, spe·cial·iz·ing, spe·cial·iz·es

  1. To limit one's profession to a particular specialty or subject area for study, research, or treatment.

  2. To adapt to a particular function or environment.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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