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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for specialise
Historical Examples
  • By "matter" he did not mean to specialise rocks any more than protoplasm or ether.

    Charles Bradlaugh: a Record of His Life and Work, Volume II (of 2) Hypatia Bradlaugh Bonner and J. M. (John Mackinnon) Robertson
  • 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
  • She was not a bit like the polite young lady above, who seemed to specialise in noisy tipplers.

    The Pretty Lady Arnold E. Bennett
  • I did not specialise individuals, possibly because Radley was one.

    Tell England Ernest Raymond
  • The question was to a certain extent crude, "Why need he be a poet, why need he so specialise?"

    Letters from America Rupert Brooke
  • It has had no schools of instruction, nor does it send its members to specialise in any particular branch.

  • There are officers who specialise in this perilous and wonderful business.

    Canada in Flanders, Volume I (of 3) Lord Max Aitken Beaverbrook
  • So vast is the field of biology, that now-a-days biologists are compelled to specialise to some extent.

    The Making of Species Douglas Dewar
  • To an observant eye and a listening ear he adds a charm of manner which is rare amongst authors who specialise in travel-talk.

    Trevlyn Hold Mrs. Henry Wood
  • The only difference was that the writers did not specialise any period as that wherein the incidents occurred.

    Tobias Smollett Oliphant Smeaton
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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