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[spesh-uh-lahyz] /ˈspɛʃ əˌlaɪz/
verb (used without object), specialized, specializing.
to pursue some special line of study, work, etc.; have a specialty:
The doctor specializes in gastroenterology.
Biology. (of an organism or one of its organs) to be adapted to a special function or environment.
verb (used with object), specialized, specializing.
to render special or specific; invest with a special character, function, etc.
to adapt to special conditions; restrict to specific limits.
to restrict payment of (a negotiable instrument) by endorsing over to a specific payee.
to specify; particularize.
Also, especially British, specialise.
Origin of specialize
1605-15; < French spécialiser. See special, -ize
Related forms
specialization, noun
nonspecialized, adjective
nonspecializing, adjective
overspecialize, verb, overspecialized, overspecializing.
prespecialize, verb (used without object), prespecialized, prespecializing.
subspecialize, verb, subspecialized, subspecializing.
superspecialize, verb (used without object), superspecialized, superspecializing.
unspecialized, adjective
unspecializing, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for specialize
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • In everything but in criticism it is necessary to specialize.

    Ephemera Critica John Churton Collins
  • You do not intend to specialize in criminal law, do you, Mr. Hamilton?

    The Crevice William John Burns and Isabel Ostrander
  • During his preliminary days at the university, the man who would win money on the races should specialize in science.

    Pieces of Hate Heywood Broun
  • But it is not probable that they will ever specialize to the same extent as men do.

    Woman in Science John Augustine Zahm
  • His brother forbids his marriage with any English donzell, for Edward dares not specialize what alone he dreads.

    The Last Of The Barons, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
British Dictionary definitions for specialize


(intransitive) to train in or devote oneself to a particular area of study, occupation, or activity
(usually passive) to cause (organisms or their parts) to develop in a way most suited to a particular environment or way of life or (of organisms, etc) to develop in this way
(transitive) to modify or make suitable for a special use or purpose
(transitive) to mention specifically; specify
(transitive) to endorse (a commercial paper) to a specific payee
Derived Forms
specialization, specialisation, noun
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 specialize

1610s, "to indicate specially," from special + -ize. Sense of "engage in a special study or line of business" is first attested 1881; biological sense is from 1851. Related: Specialized; specializing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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specialize in Medicine

specialize spe·cial·ize (spěsh'ə-līz')
v. spe·cial·ized, spe·cial·iz·ing, spe·cial·iz·es

  1. To limit one's profession to a particular specialty or subject area for study, research, or treatment.

  2. To adapt to a particular function or environment.

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