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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 specialized
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He has specialized in Geology and Mineralogy and shown considerable skill in the use of the camera.

    Up the Mazaruni for Diamonds William La Varre
  • I assume that neither of you has ever specialized in nervous or mental disorders.

    Sundry Accounts Irvin S. Cobb
  • Arista: a specialized bristle or process on antennae of certain Diptera.

  • He is at most a confused and wild Christian, not specialized by any form, but capable of all.

    Microcosmography John Earle
  • Factories can be specialized to produce that for which each is best fitted.

    The Principles of Economics Frank A. Fetter
British Dictionary definitions for specialized


(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 specialized



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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specialized 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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