English edit

Etymology edit

From Middle English specifien, from Old French specifier, especefier, or directly from Medieval Latin specificō, from specificus (specific).

Pronunciation edit

  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈspɛs.ɪ.faɪ/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈspɛs.əˌfaɪ/
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: spe‧ci‧fy

Verb edit

specify (third-person singular simple present specifies, present participle specifying, simple past and past participle specified)

  1. (transitive) To state explicitly, or in detail, or as a condition.
    • 1425 November 5, William Paston, edited by James Gairdner, Paston Letters, new edition, volume I, London: Edward Arber, published 1872, page 20:
      I was nevere somouned, ne never hadde tydynges of this matier but by seyd lettres and other fleying tales that I heve herd sithen, ne nevere hadde to do more with the seyd John Wortes than is specified in the seyd instruccion.
    • c. 1440, William Aldis Wright, editor, Generydes (in Middle English), London: N. Trübner & Co., published 1878, lines 1950–3, page 63:
      Thanne after came A riall ordenaunce, / Too myghty princes with a grete pusaunce, / ffro Masedeyn and owt of Arkadye, / Ther cowde no man the nowmber specifie.
      Then, after a royal ordinance, two mighty princes came and brought a great host of men from Macedonia and Arcadia, so many that no one could specify the number.
    • 1836, Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Commodity”, in Nature, Boston: James Monroe and Company, page 18:
      But there is no need of specifying particulars in this class of uses. The catalogue is endless, and the examples so obvious, that I shall leave them to the reader’s reflection, with the general remark, that this mercenary benefit is one which has respect to a farther good. A man is fed, not that he may be fed, but that he may work.
  2. (transitive) To include in a specification.
    • 2023 July 26, Pip Dunn, “Merseyrail '777s' are OK for passengers”, in RAIL, number 988, page 60:
      It seems to me that whoever at the Department of Transport or the train operating companies, or both, is specifying the standard of seats these days has taken leave of their senses and opted for cheapness over comfort.
  3. (transitive) To bring about a specific result.
  4. (intransitive, obsolete) To speak explicitly or in detail (often used with of).
    • c. 1300, Richard Morris, editor, Cursor Mundi [Runner of the World], volume I (in Middle English), London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., published 1893, lines 27958–9, page 1548:
      Forthermar o þis lecheri / Agh i þe noght to specifie []
      I will not speak explicitly about this lechery any further.

Synonyms edit

Derived terms edit

Related terms edit

Translations edit

Scots edit

Alternative forms edit

Etymology edit

Inherited from Middle English specifie, from Old French specefier, from Latin specifico.

Verb edit

specify (third-person singular simple present specifies/specifieis, present participle specifyand, simple past specifeit/specified, past participle specifeit/specified)

  1. (Middle Scots, transitive) to set down or state (something) explicitly, relate in detail, name or mention particularly (in a document, council, etc.)
  2. (Middle Scots, transitive) to invest with a specific character

Usage notes edit

  • The inflected forms are often abbreviated to speĩt, speit, speciit.

Conjugation edit