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See also: spécial




From Middle English, from Old French especial (whence also French spécial), from Latin specialis (from species, speciei). Used in English since the 13th century.


  • enPR: spĕʹshəl, IPA(key): /ˈspɛ.ʃəl/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛʃəl


special (comparative more special, superlative most special)

  1. Distinguished by a unique or unusual quality.
    a special episode of a television series
  2. Of particular personal interest or value; dear; beloved.
    Everyone is special to someone.
  3. (euphemistic) Retarded; mentally handicapped
    He goes to a special school.
  4. Constituting or relating to a species.
    The seven dark spots is a special property unique to Coccinella septempunctata.
  5. Chief in excellence.
    • Shakespeare
      The king hath drawn / The special head of all the land together.
  6. (military) Of or related to special forces.


Derived termsEdit

Related termsEdit


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


special (plural specials)

  1. A reduction in consumer cost (usually for a limited time) for items or services rendered.
    We're running a special on turkey for Thanksgiving.
  2. (broadcasting) Unusual or exceptional episode of a series.
    Did you see the Christmas special?
  3. (Britain, colloquial) A special constable.
  4. Anything that is not according to normal practice, plan, or schedule, as an unscheduled run of transportation that is normally scheduled.
    Thousands came to see the special that carried the President's coffin.
  5. (video games) Special move.
    • 1995, "Tony Pordon", Tekken Review [PSX] (on newsgroup
      Using the right moves, you can sometimes chain 2 specials in a row to form multiple hit combos.
  6. Any unlicensed medicine produced or obtained for a specific individual patient.



special (third-person singular simple present specials, present participle specialing or specialling, simple past and past participle specialed or specialled)

  1. (nursing) To supervise a patient one-on-one.
    • 1905, Shadyside Hospital (Pittsburgh, Pa.), Annual Report[1], page 27:
      We have not sent our pupils out on private duty except a very few times, but they have an unusual amount of specialing to do inside.
    • 2015 July 7, Jo-Ann Giandinoto, Karen-leigh Edward, “The phenomenon of co-morbid physical and mental illness in acute medical care: the lived experience of Australian health professionals”, in BMC Research Notes[2], volume 8, DOI:10.1186/s13104-015-1264-z:
      Participant three described their personal interest in mental health care: “I have an interest in mental health but I have found that other staff on the surgical ward who have been there for a while… often say I hate specialling these patients…”


Middle FrenchEdit


special m (feminine singular speciale, masculine plural speciaulx, feminine plural speciales)

  1. special; extraordinary; beyond what is usual