1. An individual, item, or part representative of a class or whole. See Synonyms at example.
2. An organism, part of an organism, or fossil that has been collected and usually preserved, especially for display or scientific research.
3. A sample, as of tissue, blood, or urine, used for analysis and diagnosis.
4. Informal An individual; a person: a disagreeable specimen.
[Latin, example, from specere, to look at; see spek- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 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.