See more synonyms for spec on Thesaurus.com
  1. built, done, bought, etc., as a speculation: the construction of spec houses.
verb (used with object), spec'd or specked or specced, spec'·ing or speck·ing or spec·cing.
  1. to provide specifications for: Their newest truck was spec'd by a computer.
  1. on spec, made, built, or done with hopes of but no assurance of payment or a sale; without commitment by a client or buyer: ad illustrations done on spec; luxury homes built on spec and sold before completion.

Origin of spec

An Americanism dating back to 1785–95; by shortening
Related formsspec·’er, speck·er, noun


plural noun Informal.
  1. spectacles; eyeglasses.
  2. specifications.

Origin of specs

First recorded in 1800–10; by shortening


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for spec

Contemporary Examples of spec

Historical Examples of spec

  • "Spec she's taken dem dogs a walkin'," said black Deborah unconcernedly.

  • "Da-da-dat is, er—I spec' so—er—I dun'no', ma'm," he stammered.

  • I even added grimly that I knew only too well how that sort of spec.

  • Like Topsy one can but "'spec' it growed" rather than was created.


    Beatrice Fortescue

  • I 'spec' you must finish him up, and let's see what he wants of us.'

    Oldtown Fireside Stories

    Harriet Beecher Stowe

British Dictionary definitions for spec


  1. on spec as a speculation or gambleall the tickets were sold so I went to the theatre on spec
  1. (prenominal) Australian and NZ speculativea spec developer

Word Origin for spec

C19: short for speculation or speculative


abbreviation for
  1. specification
  2. speculation


pl n informal
  1. short for spectacles
  2. short for specificationsSee specification
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 spec

short for specification, 1956. Related: Specs.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with spec


see on spec.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.