1. Of special importance or significance; exceptional: an occasion of especial joy.
2. Relating to or directed toward a particular person, group, or purpose: called his father with especial birthday wishes; gave especial attention to the decorations.
3. Peculiar to the individual; characteristic: She has an especial fondness for mushrooms.
[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin speciālis, of a kind, from speciēs, species; see spek- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. 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.