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early 13c., "better than ordinary," from Old French especial, from Latin specialis "individual, particular," from species "appearance, kind, sort" (see species). Meaning "marked off from others by some distinguishing quality" is recorded from c.1300. In Middle English, also as a noun meaning "sweetheart, lover." Meaning "special train" is attested from 1866. Special effects first attested 1951. Special interests in U.S. political sense is from 1910. Special pleading first recorded 1680s.
The spectacular opening procession of a circus: Mrs Webster rode an elephant in the ''spec'' (1926+ Circus)
A specification language developed at SRI around 1976.
["SPECIAL - A Specification and Assertion Language", L. Robinson et al, TR CSL-46, SRI, Jan 1977].
[Also known as "HDM"? What's HDM?]