Definition of special in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈspeSHəl/


1Better, greater, or otherwise different from what is usual: they always made a special effort at Christmas
More example sentences
  • Grandad and I have special food, at different times from other people.
  • It seemed different, more special then the rest.
  • As he experimented with special lenses and different exposures and paper, his photography became increasingly art-inspired.
momentous, significant, memorable, signal, important, historic, festive, gala, red-letter
1.1Exceptionally good or precious: she’s a very special person
More example sentences
  • This woman is exceptional, she's special, she's extraordinary and I have great respect for her.
  • I have no special talents, except being able to sing.
  • Once an implant has been installed it can't be uninstalled again except with special equipment.
1.2Belonging specifically to a particular person or place: we want to preserve our town’s special character
More example sentences
  • Yuliana belongs to a special caste in classical ballet - she is a character dancer.
  • This title belongs under that extra special list of films that are so bad they're good.
  • The special character of South Germany was expressed in the liberal subculture, which had lasting-power and prolonged success.
distinctive, distinct, individual, particular, characteristic, specific, peculiar, idiosyncratic
1.3Designed or organized for a particular person, purpose, or occasion: we will return by special coaches
More example sentences
  • High-heel shoes are probably one of the most favorite designs women choose for their special occasions.
  • General purpose home computers will gather dust as special purpose machines with cool designs and unbreakable software take over.
  • Asparagus is normally cooked, preferably by steaming in the special tall utensil designed for the purpose.
specific, particular, purpose-built, tailor-made, custom-built, custom-made
1.4(Of a subject) studied in particular depth.
Example sentences
  • His colleagues would not even respect his views about the teaching of his own special subject.
  • She was not alone in rendering living flowers, but she made them her special subject.
  • Credit cards are subject to extensive regulation, but that is a special topic and put to one side.
1.5Used to denote education for children with particular needs, especially those with learning difficulties.
Example sentences
  • You get more money for your school district for special education.
  • She graduated high school on time and entered the UVic English program with the goal of eventually becoming a special education teacher for the blind.
  • If one failed re-education, they were dubbed as mentally inept, and put into a school for special education students.
1.6 Mathematics Denoting a group consisting of matrices of unit determinant.


1A thing, such as an event, product, or broadcast, that is designed or organized for a particular occasion or purpose: television’s election night specials
More example sentences
  • During the late 1950s, several hour-long specials were also broadcast.
  • It will air this Sunday night as a television special on ABC.
  • The artist had created several animated commercials and specials for television.
1.1A dish not on the regular menu at a restaurant but served on a particular day.
Example sentences
  • Restaurants run food specials for a number of reasons, sometimes because the chef found certain ingredients at a reduced price.
  • The fine-dining restaurant specialises in Californian-influenced Italian cuisine including shrimp and lobster specials served to the sounds of a live jazz band.
  • Delicious weekly specials augment a superb menu, with a robust selection of favorites from America's four corners.
1.2 informal A product or service offered at a temporarily reduced price.
Example sentences
  • There are reduced rates and specials being offered within other sections of the market.
  • They offer a handful of weekly specials but otherwise keep prices relatively high.
  • Wellington is awash in curry houses, thus they tend to offer specials to entice you to eat there.


on special

Available for sale at a reduced price: they have hamburger buns on special today
More example sentences
  • "I was comfortable enough to put the Vanilla Twist on special in all our restaurants this month."
  • I expect they had either been abducted or were on special in an aisle I had yet to discover.
  • We have a three pack of socks on special for only a fiver up at the till!



Example sentences
  • We'd like to believe that our apprehensions signify our specialness.
  • The specialness of the cinema - and its concomitant rules, including silence, and rituals, such as dressing-up - has gone.
  • The picture of salmon swimming against strong current or leaping waterfalls confirms the specialness of this animal.


Middle English: shortening of Old French especial 'especial' or Latin specialis, from species 'appearance' (see species).

Words that rhyme with special


For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: spe·cial

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