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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.
Origin of specimen
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 specimen
  • For information on how to obtain the sample, see clean catch urine specimen.
  • For information on collecting a urine sample, see clean catch urine specimen.
  • In this lesson, students practice observing and recording the details of a specimen.
  • The new system means that museum staff can set up the microscope on request to let taxonomists look at the specimen over the web.
  • There is no possibility that the new specimen was a two-headed species, he adds.
  • Say you had a natural history museum specimen in your hand, and you put a little tiny food fish in its mouth.
  • We can only place better ethical practices in specimen collection and use careful methods of procurement.
  • The reason why is attributable to a beautiful specimen discovered half a century ago.
  • The health care provider does the rectal examination and collects the specimen.
  • Spotting such radio pulses would be more evidence that this specimen is destined to become a millisecond pulsar.
British Dictionary definitions for specimen


  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 specimen

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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specimen 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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