• synonyms


verb (used without object), spe·cial·ized, spe·cial·iz·ing.
  1. to pursue some special line of study, work, etc.; have a specialty: The doctor specializes in gastroenterology.
  2. Biology. (of an organism or one of its organs) to be adapted to a special function or environment.
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verb (used with object), spe·cial·ized, spe·cial·iz·ing.
  1. to render special or specific; invest with a special character, function, etc.
  2. to adapt to special conditions; restrict to specific limits.
  3. to restrict payment of (a negotiable instrument) by endorsing over to a specific payee.
  4. to specify; particularize.
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Also especially British, spe·cial·ise.

Origin of specialize

From the French word spécialiser, dating back to 1605–15. See special, -ize
Related formsspe·cial·i·za·tion, nounnon·spe·cial·ized, adjectivenon·spe·cial·iz·ing, adjectiveo·ver·spe·cial·ize, verb, o·ver·spe·cial·ized, o·ver·spe·cial·iz·ing.pre·spe·cial·ize, verb (used without object), pre·spe·cial·ized, pre·spe·cial·iz·ing.sub·spe·cial·ize, verb, sub·spe·cial·ized, sub·spe·cial·iz·ing.su·per·spe·cial·ize, verb (used without object), su·per·spe·cial·ized, su·per·spe·cial·iz·ing.un·spe·cial·ized, adjectiveun·spe·cial·iz·ing, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for specialise

Historical Examples

  • Would it not be preferable that workers in the field of history should specialise?

    Introduction to the Study of History

    Charles V. Langlois

  • They specialise in that brand of junk, and they're in the popular market at the moment, too.

  • I think it is certain that the way to get most enjoyment from books is to specialise a little.

    The Private Library

    Arthur L. Humphreys

  • But the art of the founder-engraver was destined to specialise itself.

    The Printed Book

    Henri Bouchot

  • There are officers who specialise in this perilous and wonderful business.

    Canada in Flanders, Volume I (of 3)

    Lord Max Aitken Beaverbrook

British Dictionary definitions for specialise



  1. (intr) to train in or devote oneself to a particular area of study, occupation, or activity
  2. (usually passive) to cause (organisms or their parts) to develop in a way most suited to a particular environment or way of life or (of organisms, etc) to develop in this way
  3. (tr) to modify or make suitable for a special use or purpose
  4. (tr) to mention specifically; specify
  5. (tr) to endorse (a commercial paper) to a specific payee
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Derived Formsspecialization or specialisation, noun
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 specialise



1610s, "to indicate specially," from special + -ize. Sense of "engage in a special study or line of business" is first attested 1881; biological sense is from 1851. Related: Specialized; specializing.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

specialise in Medicine


  1. To limit one's profession to a particular specialty or subject area for study, research, or treatment.
  2. To adapt to a particular function or environment.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.