Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French or Latin; Anglo-French especial, from Latin specialis individual, particular, from species species
Date: 13th century
1. distinguished by some unusual quality; especially being in some way superior <our special blend> 2. held in particular esteem <a special friend> 3. a. readily distinguishable from others of the same category ; unique <they set it apart as a special day of thanksgiving> b. of, relating to, or constituting a species ; specific 4. being other than the usual ; additional, extra 5. designed for a particular purpose or occasion • specialness noun Synonyms: special, especial, specific, particular, individual mean of or relating to one thing or class. special stresses having a quality, character, identity, or use of its own <special ingredients>. especial may add implications of preeminence or preference <a matter of especial importance>. specific implies a quality or character distinguishing a kind or a species <children with specific nutritional needs>. particular stresses the distinctness of something as an individual <a ballet step of particular difficulty>. individual implies unequivocal reference to one of a class or group <valued each individual opinion>. II. noun Date: 1866 1. one that is used for a special service or occasion <caught the commuter special to work> 2. something (as a television program) that is not part of a regular series 3. a featured dish at a restaurant <the specials of the day>
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.