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[ih-spesh-uh l] /ɪˈspɛʃ əl/
special; exceptional; outstanding:
of no especial importance; an especial friend.
of a particular kind, or peculiar to a particular one; particular:
your especial case.
Origin of especial
1350-1400; Middle English < Middle French < Latin speciālis pertaining to a particular kind. See special
Related forms
especialness, noun
Usage note
See special. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for especial
Contemporary Examples
  • It's like those cases where conservatives approve of "our" blacks and Latinos with an especial zeal.

    The Obama Brand Michael Tomasky February 11, 2013
Historical Examples
  • But, as I have said, our data do not relate to some especial other world.

    The Book of the Damned Charles Fort
  • His opinion of things had especial value even in his Junior year.

    Stanford Stories Charles K. Field
  • Jeremiah refers with especial frequency to the power of the word.

  • Every one must have his little sphere of plunder and especial advantage.

    Folkways William Graham Sumner
  • But yours are so far out that they have to have especial help in judging them.

    Baseball Joe, Home Run King Lester Chadwick
  • He was entertained with the bagpipes, which seemed to have especial charms for the natives.

    Captain Cook W.H.G. Kingston
  • Joseph was his especial favorite among his sons, and Jacob showed his preference in ways that were perhaps not wise.

  • The seniors in especial were anxious to distinguish themselves.

  • When it first appeared, it was honoured with your notice in an especial manner; and is not a little benefited by your labours.

    The Life of David Anonymous
British Dictionary definitions for especial


adjective (prenominal)
unusual; notable; exceptional: he paid especial attention to her that evening
applying to one person or thing in particular; not general; specific; peculiar: he had an especial dislike of relatives
Usage note
Especial and especially have a more limited use than special and specially. Special is always used in preference to especial when the sense is one of being out of the ordinary: a special lesson; he has been specially trained. Special is also used when something is referred to as being for a particular purpose: the word was specially underlined for you. Where an idea of pre-eminence or individuality is involved, either especial or special may be used: he is my especial (or special) friend; he is especially (or specially) good at his job. In informal English, however, special is usually preferred in all contexts
Word Origin
C14: from Old French, from Latin speciālis individual; see special
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
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Word Origin and History for especial

late 14c., from Old French especial "pre-eminent, important," from Latin specialis "belonging to a particular kind or species," from species "kind" (see species).

Latin words with initial sp-, st-, sc- usually acquired an e- when borrowed by Old French. Modern French has restored the word to spécial. Originally with the same sense as special, later restricted to feelings, qualities, etc.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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