[ ih-spesh-uh l ]
/ ɪˈspɛʃ əl /


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

Nearby words

  1. espartero,
  2. esparto,
  3. españa,
  4. español,
  5. espec.,
  6. especially,
  7. esperance,
  8. esperanto,
  9. espial,
  10. espionage

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

British Dictionary definitions for especial


/ (ɪˈspɛʃəl) /

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