[ spesh-uh-lahyz ]
See synonyms for: specializespecializedspecializesspecializing on Thesaurus.com

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.

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.

  1. to restrict payment of (a negotiable instrument) by endorsing over to a specific payee.

  2. to specify; particularize.

Origin of specialize

From the French word spécialiser, dating back to 1605–15; see special, -ize
  • Also especially British, spe·cial·ise .

Other words from specialize

  • spe·cial·i·za·tion [spesh-uh-lahy-zey-shuhn], /ˌspɛʃ ə laɪˈzeɪ ʃən/, noun
  • non·spe·cial·iz·ing, adjective
  • o·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·iz·ing, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use specialize in a sentence

  • Another Sportsman, humbler in aspiration, is prepared to specialise on rabbits.

  • Division of labour has set in, and groups of cells specialise in the performance of functions.

  • To an observant eye and a listening ear he adds a charm of manner which is rare amongst authors who specialise in travel-talk.

    Trevlyn Hold | Mrs. Henry Wood
  • He led me across many decks from craft to craft to study the various appliances that they specialise in.

    Sea Warfare | Rudyard Kipling
  • He is the very modern type in every modern country who does specialise in slang.

    What I Saw in America | G. K. Chesterton

British Dictionary definitions for specialize



/ (ˈspɛʃəˌlaɪz) /

  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

  1. (tr) to modify or make suitable for a special use or purpose

  2. (tr) to mention specifically; specify

  3. (tr) to endorse (a commercial paper) to a specific payee

Derived forms of specialize

  • specialization 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