Definition of specimen in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈspesəmən/


1An individual animal, plant, piece of a mineral, etc., used as an example of its species or type for scientific study or display.
Example sentences
  • Another corner of the display showed zoological specimens, minerals and ores, and surgical instruments.
  • Its displays cover millions of specimens, including fossils, meteorites, mammals, plants, minerals, and insects.
  • Ray then spent thirteen years travelling around Britain and Europe collecting specimens and studying animals.
1.1An example of something such as a product or piece of work, regarded as typical of its class or group.
Example sentences
  • The question in the specimen paper required the students to discuss the social criticism in The Big Sleep and other texts.
  • Fill out a specimen ballot paper in your constituency.
1.2A sample for medical testing, especially of urine.
Example sentences
  • Are there any medical reasons why a specimen of blood cannot or should not be taken by a doctor?
  • They will report on the foods they eat and give biological specimens for testing.
  • Urine specimens had been obtained and tested by the nursing staff.
sample, example, instance, illustration, demonstration, exemplification;
bit, snippet;
model, prototype, pattern, dummy, pilot, trial, taster, tester
1.3 informal Used to refer humorously to a person or animal: in her he found himself confronted by a sorrier specimen than himself
More example sentences
  • She was born a perfect female specimen.
  • She was the most perfect female specimen in the whole damn world.
  • I've known most of the world's most perfect physical specimens over the course of the last 30 years.


Early 17th century (in the sense 'pattern, model'): from Latin, from specere 'to look'.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: spec·i·men

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