View synonyms for specific


[ spi-sif-ik ]


  1. having a special application, bearing, or reference; specifying, explicit, or definite:

    to state one's specific purpose.

  2. specified, precise, or particular:

    a specific sum of money.

    Antonyms: vague

  3. peculiar or proper to somebody or something, as qualities, characteristics, effects, etc.:

    His specific problems got him into trouble.

  4. of a special or particular kind.
  5. concerned specifically with the item or subject named (used in combination):

    The Secretary addressed himself to crop-specific problems.

  6. Biology. of or relating to a species:

    specific characters.

  7. Medicine/Medical.
    1. (of a disease) produced by a special cause or infection.
    2. (of a remedy) having special effect in the prevention or cure of a certain disease.
  8. Immunology. (of an antibody or antigen) having a particular effect on only one antibody or antigen or affecting it in only one way.
  9. Commerce. noting customs or duties levied in fixed amounts per unit, as number, weight, or volume.
  10. Physics.
    1. designating a physical constant that, for a particular substance, is expressed as the ratio of the quantity in the substance to the quantity in an equal volume of a standard substance, as water or air.
    2. designating a physical constant that expresses a property or effect as a quantity per unit length, area, volume, or mass.


  1. something specific, as a statement, quality, detail, etc.
  2. Medicine/Medical. a specific remedy:

    There is no specific for the common cold.


/ spɪˈsɪfɪk; ˌspɛsɪˈfɪsɪtɪ /


  1. explicit, particular, or definite

    please be more specific

  2. relating to a specified or particular thing

    a specific treatment for arthritis

  3. of or relating to a biological species

    specific differences

  4. (of a disease) caused by a particular pathogenic agent
  5. physics
    1. characteristic of a property of a particular substance, esp in relation to the same property of a standard reference substance

      specific gravity

    2. characteristic of a property of a particular substance per unit mass, length, area, volume, etc

      specific heat

    3. (of an extensive physical quantity) divided by mass

      specific volume

      specific heat capacity

  6. Also (rare)specifical commerce denoting a tariff levied at a fixed sum per unit of weight, quantity, volume, etc, irrespective of value


  1. sometimes plural a designated quality, thing, etc
  2. med any drug used to treat a particular disease

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Derived Forms

  • speˈcifically, adverb
  • specificity, noun

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Other Words From

  • spe·cifi·cal·ly adverb
  • nonspe·cifi·cal·ly adverb
  • prespe·cific adjective
  • prespe·cifi·cal·ly adverb
  • unspe·cific adjective
  • unspe·cifi·cal·ly adverb

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Word History and Origins

Origin of specific1

First recorded in 1625–35; from Medieval Latin specificus, equivalent to Latin speci(ēs) species + -ficus -fic

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Word History and Origins

Origin of specific1

C17: from Medieval Latin specificus, from Latin species

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Synonym Study

See special.

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Example Sentences

They are specific to whatever product or service you’re selling.

Previously, there was no specific requirement of what type of mask should be worn.

He now associates different areas with specific types of trash.

The specifics of this call were unique, but the theme was a common refrain.

Oh, Naaaaaaancy is a very specific scene from a horror movie.

One specific kind of emergency is at the heart of this, such as when an airplane suffers a loss of stability at night.

So too with a vaccine that provokes a specific immune response aimed at a specific RNA sequence.

Mistletoes infections can kill individual trees and stands of trees, and most mistletoe species attack specific tree species.

“Protocols have specific meanings behind them, rather than do what I say because I say so,” she added.

“Very few agencies offer police any specific guidance or training on how to question people with ID,” said Garrett.

The specific gravity is most conveniently estimated by means of the urinometer—Squibb's is preferable (Fig. 14).

One frequently wishes to ascertain the specific gravity of quantities of fluid too small to float an urinometer.

The specific gravity method is very useful when special instruments are not at hand.

The Specific Gravity is the relative weight of a body compared to an equal bulk of some other body taken as a standard.

A special agent is authorized to do a specific thing, to sell a home, buy a horse, or effect some particular end or purpose.