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[spesh-uh-list] /ˈspɛʃ ə lɪst/
a person who devotes himself or herself to one subject or to one particular branch of a subject or pursuit.
a medical practitioner who devotes attention to a particular class of diseases, patients, etc.
U.S. Army. an enlisted person of one of four grades having technical or administrative duties, the grades corresponding to those of corporal through sergeant first class but not requiring the exercise of command.
Stock Exchange. a member of an exchange who executes orders in his or her name or for other stockbrokers in a single stock or a particular group of stocks and thus helps maintain the market in those securities on that exchange.
Origin of specialist
First recorded in 1855-60; special + -ist
Related forms
nonspecialist, noun, adjective
prespecialist, noun
subspecialist, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for specialist
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The zany was progenitor to the specialist in humor, as we to-day have the unhappiness to know him.

    The Devil's Dictionary Ambrose Bierce
  • A specialist who knows everything about something and nothing about anything else.

    The Devil's Dictionary Ambrose Bierce
  • He leaves it to the specialist, which is as if he should leave his dinner to be eaten by a steam-engine.

    Howards End E. M. Forster
  • I'm going to set up as a specialist, a brain specialist, for clams.

    Kent Knowles: Quahaug Joseph C. Lincoln
  • The specialist has been described as a "man who knows more and more about less and less."

    Disowned Victor Endersby
British Dictionary definitions for specialist


  1. a person who specializes in or devotes himself to a particular area of activity, field of research, etc
  2. (as modifier): specialist knowledge
an enlisted rank in the US Army denoting technical qualifications that entitle the holder to a noncommissioned officer's pay
(ecology) an organism that has special nutritional requirements and lives in a restricted habitat that provides these Compare generalist
Derived Forms
specialistic, adjective
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 specialist

1856 (originally in the medical sense); see special + -ist.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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specialist in Medicine

specialist spe·cial·ist (spěsh'ə-lĭst)
A physician whose practice is limited to a particular branch of medicine or surgery, especially one who is certified by a board of physicians.

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