special

special adj Special, especial, specific, particular, individual are closely related terms because all carry the meaning relating to or belonging to one thing or one class especially as distinguished from all the others. Both special and especial imply differences which distinguish the thing so described from others of its kind, and the two can often be interchanged without significant loss. However special may be preferred when the differences give the thing concerned a quality, character, identity, or use of its own
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the mistress of the boardinghouse refused to serve special food to any of her guests

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the baby requires a special soap because of his sensitive skin

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if the whole of nature is purposive, it is not likely that we can discern special purposes operating— Inge

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a special aspect of a more general malady— Babbitt

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Often, in addition, special implies being out of the ordinary or being conspicuously unusual and therefore comes close to uncommon or exceptional
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it's not like ordinary photographs. There's something special about it— Bennett

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Mom was drunk most of the time and sometimes used to tear up the whole neighborhood, but all the same she had very special ideas about being respectable— Theodore Sturgeon

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preventing the perpetuation of an hereditary upper class with special privileges and better education— Edmund Wilson

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Special is also applicable to something added (as to a schedule, a series, or a sequence) for an exceptional or extraordinary purpose, reason, or occasion
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special trains will be run to Washington for the inauguration

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a special dividend

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Especial is more likely to be chosen when there is the intent to convey the idea of preeminence or of being such as is described over and above all the others
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his especial friend

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a matter of especial importance

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this has no especial reference to any one person

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Egypt, as the granary of the ancient world, had especial need for Pussy's services— Repplier

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an elegantly written piece in the author's own especial version of the neoclassic manner— Virgil Thomson

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Specific (see also EXPLICIT) basically implies unique and peculiar relationship to a kind or category or individual
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specific evidence of disease

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the specific virtue of a drug

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specific nutritional needs of the aged

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In some (as philosophical, biological, or critical) uses it can suggest opposition to generic and imply a relation to a particular species as distinguished from a more comprehensive category to which that species belongs
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specific characters by which members of the genus Rosa can be differentiated

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groups of specific rank

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but in more general use it tends to stress uñiquity and to imply a relation to one thing or one individual as distinguished from all others that can be felt to fall into a category with that one
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whether the specific freedoms we know and cherish . . . can be maintained— Sidney Hook

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make it possible for the imaginative talent to develop along those lines that reward with specific fruition— Hudson Review

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the binding of some ions is highly specific with respect to the protein involved— Cannan & Levy

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However, specific also may mean no more than explicitly mentioned, or called into or brought forward for consideration
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if such injuries . . . result in any of the following specific losses— insurance policy

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would be glad to hear of specific cases of scholars having difficulty with either passports or visas— ACLS Newsletter

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interested in any specific field only for its contribution to a view of the world as a totality— Cohen

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In this last sense of specific particular is sometimes preferred on the ground that the term is clearly opposed to general and that it is a close synonym of single (for fuller treatment see SINGLE). The differences between the two words in this sense are not easily discoverable, but specific seems to be chosen more often when the ideas of specification or of illustration are involved, and particular, when the distinctness of the thing as an individual is to be suggested; thus, one gives a specific illustration to indicate a word's normal use but describes the particular uses of the word
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in this connection, one of Don Quixote's adventures deserves particular mention— Muggeridge

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we get a sense for particular beauties of nature, rather than a sense for Nature herself— Binyon

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Particular is often used also in the sense of special and especial
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some half-dozen particular friends— Dickens

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the Debussy selection was the particular gem of the evening— Watt

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In logic particular is opposed to universal and applies to matters (as propositions, judgments, and conceptions) which have reference to a single member or to some members of a class rather than to all; thus,, "some men are highly intelligent" is a particular proposition, but "all men make mistakes" is a universal proposition. Often, in less technical use, particular implies an opposition to general as well as to universal
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one is apt to amplify a particular judgment into a general opinion— Mackenzie

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we shall venture beyond the particular book in search of qualities that group books together— Woolf

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Individual unequivocally implies reference to one of the class or group as clearly distinguished from all the others
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the aspect of every individual stone or brick— Conrad

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one could hardly maintain the courage to be individual, to speak with one's own voice— Mailer

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it was not the magnitude or multiplicity of burdens that created martyrs and saints; it was the individual capacity to bear suffering— Hervey

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Analogous words: distinctive, peculiar, individual, *characteristic: *exceptional: uncommon, occasional, rare (see INFREQUENT)
Contrasted words: *common, ordinary, familiar: *usual, customary, habitual

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

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  • spécial — spécial, iale, iaux [ spesjal, jo ] adj. • 1190; especiel v. 1130; lat. specialis « relatif à l espèce » 1 ♦ Qui concerne une espèce, une sorte de choses (opposé à général). Domaine spécial. ⇒ spécialité. Des connaissances spéciales. Dictionnaire …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Special — Spe cial, a. [L. specialis, fr. species a particular sort, kind, or quality: cf. F. sp[ e]cial. See {Species}, and cf. {Especial}.] 1. Of or pertaining to a species; constituting a species or sort. [1913 Webster] A special is called by the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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  • special — SPECIÁL, Ă, speciali, e, adj. Care se deosebeşte de alte lucruri asemănătoare prin trăsături care îi sunt proprii; care se află numai la un lucru sau la o anumită categorie de lucruri; (adesea adverbial) care este făcut, destinat, rezervat pentru …   Dicționar Român

  • Special — may refer to: *Special needs, a diagnosis used to classify children as needing more services than those children without special needs *Special teams, units in American football and Canadian football that are on the field during kickoffs, free… …   Wikipedia

  • special — spe·cial adj 1: distinguished by some unusual quality special circumstances justifying an award of attorney s fees 2: relating to a single thing or class of things: having an individual character or trait owed them a special duty not owed to the… …   Law dictionary

  • Special K — is a lightly toasted breakfast cereal manufactured by the Kellogg Company. The cereal was introduced to the United States in 1956. It is made primarily from rice and wheat. The name was created by taking the K for Kellogg s and adding the word… …   Wikipedia

  • Special — «Special» Sencillo de Garbage del álbum Version 2.0 Lado B 13 x Forever Medication (Acoustic Version) Formato 3 CD Single, Maxi sencillo, Cassette Grabación Marzo de 1997 Febrero de 1998 Smart Studios, Madison …   Wikipedia Español

  • special — [spesh′əl] adj. [ME < OFr especial < L specialis < species, kind, sort: see SPECIES] 1. of a kind different from others; distinctive, peculiar, or unique 2. exceptional; extraordinary [a special treat] 3. highly regarded or valued [a… …   English World dictionary

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