[ih-spesh-uh l]


special; exceptional; outstanding: of no especial importance; an especial friend.
of a particular kind, or peculiar to a particular one; particular: your especial case.

Origin of especial

1350–1400; Middle English < Middle French < Latin speciālis pertaining to a particular kind. See special
Related formses·pe·cial·ness, noun

Usage note

See special. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for especial

Contemporary Examples of especial

  • It's like those cases where conservatives approve of "our" blacks and Latinos with an especial zeal.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Obama Brand

    Michael Tomasky

    February 12, 2013

Historical Examples of especial

  • There was no especial change in the girl's voice as she answered his defense.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • His affection for Cassius is not a virtue to one in especial.

  • I had hoped that no man would think of my especial kitchen plans.

    Her Father's Daughter

    Gene Stratton-Porter

  • He had an especial dislike of learned and "dictionary words."

  • To talk to you of the harbor, of course—that's her especial line these days.

    The Harbor

    Ernest Poole

British Dictionary definitions for especial


adjective (prenominal)

unusual; notable; exceptionalhe paid especial attention to her that evening
applying to one person or thing in particular; not general; specific; peculiarhe had an especial dislike of relatives

Word Origin for especial

C14: from Old French, from Latin speciālis individual; see special


Especial and especially have a more limited use than special and specially. Special is always used in preference to especial when the sense is one of being out of the ordinary: a special lesson; he has been specially trained. Special is also used when something is referred to as being for a particular purpose: the word was specially underlined for you. Where an idea of pre-eminence or individuality is involved, either especial or special may be used: he is my especial (or special) friend; he is especially (or specially) good at his job. In informal English, however, special is usually preferred in all contexts
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

Word Origin and History for especial

late 14c., from Old French especial "pre-eminent, important," from Latin specialis "belonging to a particular kind or species," from species "kind" (see species).

Latin words with initial sp-, st-, sc- usually acquired an e- when borrowed by Old French. Modern French has restored the word to spécial. Originally with the same sense as special, later restricted to feelings, qualities, etc.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper