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[spi-sif-ik] /spɪˈsɪf ɪk/
having a special application, bearing, or reference; specifying, explicit, or definite:
to state one's specific purpose.
specified, precise, or particular:
a specific sum of money.
peculiar or proper to somebody or something, as qualities, characteristics, effects, etc.:
His specific problems got him into trouble.
of a special or particular kind.
concerned specifically with the item or subject named (used in combination):
The Secretary addressed himself to crop-specific problems.
Biology. of or relating to a species:
specific characters.
  1. (of a disease) produced by a special cause or infection.
  2. (of a remedy) having special effect in the prevention or cure of a certain disease.
Immunology. (of an antibody or antigen) having a particular effect on only one antibody or antigen or affecting it in only one way.
Commerce. noting customs or duties levied in fixed amounts per unit, as number, weight, or volume.
  1. designating a physical constant that, for a particular substance, is expressed as the ratio of the quantity in the substance to the quantity in an equal volume of a standard substance, as water or air.
  2. designating a physical constant that expresses a property or effect as a quantity per unit length, area, volume, or mass.
something specific, as a statement, quality, detail, etc.
Medicine/Medical. a specific remedy:
There is no specific for the common cold.
Origin of specific
1625-35; < Medieval Latin specificus, equivalent to Latin speci(ēs) species + -ficus -fic
Related forms
specifically, adverb
nonspecifically, adverb
prespecific, adjective
prespecifically, adverb
unspecific, adjective
unspecifically, adverb
2. vague.
Synonym Study
1. See special. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for specific
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Food of specific sorts is rarely, if at all, mentioned in the poem.

    Beowulf Unknown
  • Man-stealing was a specific offence, with its specific penalty.

    Slavery Ordained of God Rev. Fred A. Ross, D.D.
  • Its kernel is very bitter, and it is said to be a specific against fevers.

    The History of Louisiana Le Page Du Pratz
  • The delirium of jealousy is a specific symptom of chronic alcoholism.

    The Sexual Question August Forel
  • The specific name, "nasty" or "stinking," has really no application to the plant.

British Dictionary definitions for specific


explicit, particular, or definite: please be more specific
relating to a specified or particular thing: a specific treatment for arthritis
of or relating to a biological species: specific differences
(of a disease) caused by a particular pathogenic agent
  1. characteristic of a property of a particular substance, esp in relation to the same property of a standard reference substance: specific gravity
  2. characteristic of a property of a particular substance per unit mass, length, area, volume, etc: specific heat
  3. (of an extensive physical quantity) divided by mass: specific heat capacity, specific volume
(commerce) Also (rare) specifical. denoting a tariff levied at a fixed sum per unit of weight, quantity, volume, etc, irrespective of value
(sometimes pl) a designated quality, thing, etc
(med) any drug used to treat a particular disease
Derived Forms
specifically, adverb
specificity (ˌspɛsɪˈfɪsɪtɪ) noun
Word Origin
C17: from Medieval Latin specificus, from Latin species
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 specific

1630s, "having a special quality," from French spécifique, from Late Latin specificus "constituting a species," from Latin species "kind, sort" (see species). Earlier form was specifical (early 15c.). Meaning "definite, precise" first recorded 1740.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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specific in Medicine

specific spe·cif·ic (spĭ-sĭf'ĭk)

  1. Relating to, characterizing, or distinguishing a species.

  2. Intended for, applying to, or acting on a specified thing.

  3. Designating a disease produced by a particular microorganism or condition.

  4. Having a remedial influence or effect on a particular disease.

  5. In immunology, having an affinity limited to a particular antibody or antigen.

A remedy intended for a particular ailment or disorder.
spe·cif'i·cal·ly adv.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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