Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Surpassing what is common or usual; exceptional.
  • adjective Distinct among others of a kind.
  • adjective Primary.
  • adjective Peculiar to a specific person or thing; particular.
  • adjective Having a limited or specific function, application, or scope.
  • adjective Arranged for a particular occasion or purpose.
  • adjective Regarded with particular affection and admiration.
  • adjective Additional; extra.
  • noun Something arranged, issued, or appropriated to a particular service or occasion.
  • noun A featured attraction, such as a reduced price.
  • noun A single television production that features a specific work, a given topic, or a particular performer.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Of or pertaining to a species or sort; of a particular kind or character; distinct from other kinds; specifically characteristic.
  • Of or pertaining to one or more of a kind; peculiar to an individual or a set; not general; particular; individual.
  • Peculiar or distinct of the kind; of exceptional character, amount, degree, or the like; especially distinguished; express; particular.
  • Specifically, limited as to function, operation, or purpose; designed for specific application or service; acting for a limited time or in a restricted manner; not general of the kind named: as, special legislation; special pleading; a special agent, constable, or correspondent; special employment; a special dictionary.
  • Synonyms Special, Especial, Particular, Peculiar, Specific. Special is more common than especial, which has the same meaning; but especially is for rhythmical reasons (because it occurs most frequently at the beginning of a dependent clause, where usually an unaccented particle occurs, and where, therefore, a word with an accent on the first syllable is instinctively avoided) much more common than specially. The special comes under the general, as the particular comes under the special. A special favor is one that is more than ordinary; a particular favor is still more remarkable; a peculiar favor comes very closely home. When we speak of any particular thing, we distiuguish it from all others; when we speak of a specific fault in one's character, we name it with exactness; a special law is one that is made for a particular purpose or a peculiar case; a specific law is either one that we name exactly or one that names offenses, etc., exactly.
  • noun A special or particular person or thing.
  • noun (b ) A private companion; a paramour or concubine.
  • noun A person or thing appointed or set apart for a special purpose or occasion, as a constable, a railway-train, an examination, a dispatch, etc.: as, they traveled by special to Chicago; the specials were called out to quell the riot.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun obsolete A particular.
  • noun One appointed for a special service or occasion.
  • noun specially; in particular.
  • adjective Of or pertaining to a species; constituting a species or sort.
  • adjective Particular; peculiar; different from others; extraordinary; uncommon.
  • adjective Appropriate; designed for a particular purpose, occasion, or person.
  • adjective Limited in range; confined to a definite field of action, investigation, or discussion.
  • adjective obsolete Chief in excellence.
  • adjective (Law) an administration limited to certain specified effects or acts, or one granted during a particular time or the existence of a special cause, as during a controversy respecting the probate of a will, or the right of administration, etc.
  • adjective an agency confined to some particular matter.
  • adjective (Law) sureties who undertake that, if the defendant is convicted, he shall satisfy the plaintiff, or surrender himself into custody.
  • adjective See under Constable.
  • adjective (Law) a damage resulting from the act complained of, as a natural, but not the necessary, consequence of it.
  • adjective (Law) a demurrer for some defect of form in the opposite party pleading, in which the cause of demurrer is particularly stated.
  • adjective a deposit made of a specific thing to be kept distinct from others.
  • adjective (Biol.) See under Homology.
  • adjective (Law) an injuction granted on special grounds, arising of the circumstances of the case.
  • adjective (Law) an issue produced upon a special plea.
  • adjective (Law) a jury consisting of persons of some particular calling, station, or qualification, which is called upon motion of either party when the cause is supposed to require it; a struck jury.
  • adjective (Mil.) orders which do not concern, and are not published to, the whole command, such as those relating to the movement of a particular corps, a detail, a temporary camp, etc.
  • adjective a limited partner; a partner with a limited or restricted responsibility; -- unknown at common law.
  • adjective a limited or particular partnership; -- a term sometimes applied to a partnership in a particular business, operation, or adventure.
  • adjective (Law) a plea setting forth particular and new matter, distinguished from the general issue.
  • adjective (Law) originally, a counsel who devoted himself to drawing special counts and pleas; in a wider sense, a lawyer who draws pleadings.
  • adjective (Law) The phrase is sometimes popularly applied to the specious, but unsound, argumentation of one whose aim is victory, and not truth.
  • adjective (Law) a qualified or limited ownership possession, as in wild animals, things found or bailed.
  • adjective an extraordinary session; a session at an unusual time or for an unusual purpose.

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old French especial, from Latin speciālis, from speciēs, kind; see species.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

Examples

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Don't forget about The Church Lady's (Saturday Night Live) rendition of this word, "Isn't that special?"

    March 26, 2009

  • 'I'm Thpecial!'

    December 2, 2009

  • CD&C oscillating between Yeats and Miss Manners.

    January 4, 2013

  • I like how the CD&C specifically mentions "a special dictionary."

    January 4, 2013

  • --from the examples: British, colloquial A special constable. --Like those portrayed by Monty Python.

    January 4, 2013