Definition of specimen in English:



  • 1An individual animal, plant, piece of a mineral, etc. used as an example of its species or type for scientific study or display.

    ‘specimens of copper ore’
    • ‘Studying specimens in the field may be limited due to time, budget, and weather constraints and making review difficult.’
    • ‘The glazed shelves lining the walls were designed to house Alexander's mineralogical specimens and books devoted to the subject.’
    • ‘The expected value of analysing a single plant specimen, is the expected revenue less the costs.’
    • ‘Its displays cover millions of specimens, including fossils, meteorites, mammals, plants, minerals, and insects.’
    • ‘The animal remains seem to represent only dissection material and were not used as specimens for display.’
    • ‘Scientists use these reference specimens to help identify and characterize agriculturally important fungi.’
    • ‘He ventures above ground into wintertime Philadelphia to collect animal specimens.’
    • ‘Ray then spent thirteen years travelling around Britain and Europe collecting specimens and studying animals.’
    • ‘Borack shows the specific cases holding mammals, birds, paleontological specimens, fish and reptiles.’
    • ‘Another corner of the display showed zoological specimens, minerals and ores, and surgical instruments.’
    • ‘Their work has brought them into contact with some macabre, yet scientifically fascinating, specimens.’
    • ‘From April onwards, we potter about outside, spotting gaps where we might plant another beautiful specimen,’
    1. 1.1An example of something regarded as typical of its class or group.
      [as modifier] ‘a specimen paper of the new test’
      • ‘Fill out a specimen ballot paper in your constituency.’
      • ‘The question in the specimen paper required the students to discuss the social criticism in The Big Sleep and other texts.’
    2. 1.2A sample for medical testing, especially of urine.
      • ‘I require you to provide a specimen of breath for a breath test.’
      • ‘A few test specimens might well be arriving at the lab in the next few weeks.’
      • ‘He took a blood specimen from the appellant and the specimen was divided into two samples.’
      • ‘Urine specimens had been obtained and tested by the nursing staff.’
      • ‘The volunteers gave blood and urine specimens at each lab visit.’
      • ‘Specimens of blood or urine are the alternatives…’
      • ‘Are there any medical reasons why a specimen of blood cannot or should not be taken by a doctor?’
      • ‘The police officers required the respondent to provide a specimen of breath for a roadside breath test.’
      • ‘They will report on the foods they eat and give biological specimens for testing.’
      • ‘Sperm banks arose to store indefinitely thousands of specimens in a single location.’
      • ‘Miss Rossiter provided a specimen of urine to the surgery for analysis.’
      sample, example, bit, snippet, illustration, demonstration, exemplification, instance, selection, representative piece
      model, prototype, pattern, dummy, swatch, test piece, pilot, trailer, trial, indication, foretaste, taste, taster, tester, smear
      View synonyms
  • 2informal Used to refer humorously to a person or animal.

    ‘Carla could not help feeling a degree of reluctant admiration for this odd female specimen’
    • ‘I was never a perfect specimen of boyhood and always got chosen last or next to last.’
    • ‘I remember thinking he was the most perfect specimen I've ever seen.’
    • ‘Critics were perplexed by this seemingly perfect specimen, and swiftly termed her bland and banal.’
    • ‘You embody the perfect friend, the perfect companion, the perfect physical specimen.’
    • ‘He was like the perfect specimen of man… but he wasn't perfect for me.’
    • ‘The blurry embodiment of a male specimen was making his way towards Audrae now.’
    • ‘My best guy friend was definitely not what you would call the ideal male specimen.’
    • ‘Too bad he is a member of the Underground Society, but he is still a perfect male specimen!’
    • ‘I just think it's weird that after going out with the finest specimen that the female race has to offer you can settle for less.’
    • ‘With Bianca's perfect figure, every single male specimen was bewitched by her.’
    • ‘She was the most perfect female specimen in the whole damn world.’
    • ‘I've known most of the world's most perfect physical specimens over the course of the last 30 years.’
    • ‘It took me a second to home in on that perfect specimen of manly-buffness.’
    • ‘She was the perfect specimen: thin arms, long legs, pouty lips.’
    • ‘Why I chose to surround myself with perfect specimens I do not know.’
    • ‘Here's another female specimen who's in love with him.’
    • ‘He's a perfect American specimen.’
    • ‘They had to be perfect physical specimens able to handle enormous amounts of stress.’
    • ‘Out of the doorway came the most perfect specimen of male youth I had ever seen out.’
    • ‘She was born a perfect female specimen.’


Early 17th century (in the sense ‘pattern, model’): from Latin, from specere to look.