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.
  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.

Origin of specific

1625–35; < Medieval Latin specificus, equivalent to Latin speci(ēs) species + -ficus -fic
Related formsspe·cif·i·cal·ly, adverbnon·spe·cif·i·cal·ly, adverbpre·spe·cif·ic, adjectivepre·spe·cif·i·cal·ly, adverbun·spe·cif·ic, adjectiveun·spe·cif·i·cal·ly, adverb

Synonym study

1. See special.

Antonyms for specific

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

British Dictionary definitions for unspecifically


  1. explicit, particular, or definiteplease be more specific
  2. relating to a specified or particular thinga specific treatment for arthritis
  3. of or relating to a biological speciesspecific 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 substancespecific gravity
    2. characteristic of a property of a particular substance per unit mass, length, area, volume, etcspecific heat
    3. (of an extensive physical quantity) divided by massspecific heat capacity; specific volume
  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
Derived Formsspecifically, adverbspecificity (ˌspɛsɪˈfɪsɪtɪ), noun

Word Origin for specific

C17: from Medieval Latin specificus, from Latin species
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 unspecifically



1630s, "having a special quality," from French spécifique, from Late Latin specificus "constituting a species," from Latin species "kind, sort" (see species). Earlier form was specifical (early 15c.). Meaning "definite, precise" first recorded 1740.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

unspecifically in Medicine


  1. Relating to, characterizing, or distinguishing a species.
  2. Intended for, applying to, or acting on a specified thing.
  3. Designating a disease produced by a particular microorganism or condition.
  4. Having a remedial influence or effect on a particular disease.
  5. In immunology, having an affinity limited to a particular antibody or antigen.
  1. A remedy intended for a particular ailment or disorder.
Related formsspe•cifi•cal•ly adv.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.