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[spes-uh-muh n] /ˈspɛs ə mən/
a part or an individual taken as exemplifying a whole mass or number; a typical animal, plant, mineral, part, etc.
(in medicine, microbiology, etc.) a sample of a substance or material for examination or study:
a urine specimen; a tissue specimen.
a particular or peculiar kind of person.
1600-10; < Latin: mark, example, indication, sign, equivalent to speci-, stem of specere to look, regard + -men noun suffix denoting result or means
1. type, model, pattern. See example. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for specimens
  • Large specimens can be expensive and tend to be snapped up by professional landscapers.
  • He's studied them, collected specimens that are displayed all over his property, and now written a remarkable book about them.
  • Hatch has spent hours driving through the countryside, trolling for missing specimens sprouting along the road.
  • First is protein profiling, taking tissue specimens and trying to identify and characterize all the proteins.
  • Many of the larger, and therefore older specimens in the area's forests have been logged.
  • In any new field of endeavour, the first priority is to gather lots of specimens.
  • Having obtained his specimens, he photographed them under a microscope, using ultraviolet light.
  • His conviction that art looks best in frames of the same period led to the acquisition of many historic specimens.
  • As well as providing cover from the tropical sun, the spreading branches of these tall trees re-seed the block with new specimens.
  • One official argument against trade is that a legitimate source of specimens can act as cover for illegal sales.
British Dictionary definitions for specimens


  1. an individual, object, or part regarded as typical of the group or class to which it belongs
  2. (as modifier): a specimen signature, a specimen page
(med) a sample of tissue, blood, urine, etc, taken for diagnostic examination or evaluation
the whole or a part of an organism, plant, rock, etc, collected and preserved as an example of its class, species, etc
(informal, often derogatory) a person
Word Origin
C17: from Latin: mark, evidence, proof, from specere to look at
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for specimens



1610s, "pattern, model," from Latin specimen "indication, mark, example, sign, evidence," from specere "to look at" (see scope (n.1)). Meaning "single thing regarded as typical of its kind" first recorded 1650s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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specimens in Medicine

specimen spec·i·men (spěs'ə-mən)
A sample, as of tissue, blood, or urine, used for analysis and diagnosis.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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