1. Surpassing what is common or usual; exceptional: a special occasion; a special treat.
a. Distinct among others of a kind: a special type of paint; a special medication for arthritis.
b. Primary: His special satisfaction comes from volunteer work.
3. Peculiar to a specific person or thing; particular: my own special chair; the special features of a computer.
a. Having a limited or specific function, application, or scope: a special role in the mission.
b. Arranged for a particular occasion or purpose: a special visit from her daughter.
5. Regarded with particular affection and admiration: a special friend.
6. Additional; extra: a special holiday flight.
1. Something arranged, issued, or appropriated to a particular service or occasion: rode to work on the commuter special.
2. A featured attraction, such as a reduced price: a special on salmon.
3. A single television production that features a specific work, a given topic, or a particular performer.
[Middle English, from Old French especial, from Latin speciālis, from speciēs, kind; see SPECIES.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.