[ spesh-uhl ]
/ ˈspɛʃ əl /
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See synonyms for: special / specials / specially on Thesaurus.com





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Origin of special

First recorded in 1175–1225; Middle English (adjective), from Latin speciālis “of a given species,” equivalent to speci(ēs) “form, kind, sort” + -ālis adjective suffix; see species, -al1, especial

synonym study for special

5. Special, particular, specific refer to something pointed out for attention and consideration. Special means given unusual treatment because of being uncommon: a special sense of a word. Particular implies something selected from the others of its kind and set off from them for attention: a particular variety of orchid. Specific implies plain and unambiguous indication of a particular instance, example, etc.: a specific instance of cowardice.

usage note for special

In American English the adjective special is overwhelmingly more common than especial in all senses: He will be of special help if you can't understand the documentation. The reverse is true of the adverbs; here especially is by far the more common: He will be of great help, especially if you have trouble understanding the documentation. Only when the sense “specifically” is intended is specially more idiomatic: The machine was specially designed for use by a left-handed operator.


spe·cial·ly, adverbin·ter·spe·cial, adjectivenon·spe·cial, adjective, nounsu·per·spe·cial, adjective, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

How to use special in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for special

/ (ˈspɛʃəl) /



verb -cials, -cialling or -cialled (tr)

NZ informal to advertise and sell (an item) at a reduced pricewe are specialling butter this week

Derived forms of special

specially, adverbspecialness, noun

Word Origin for special

C13: from Old French especial, from Latin speciālis individual, special, from speciēs appearance, species

undefined special

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