Definition of specimen in US English:



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

    • ‘From April onwards, we potter about outside, spotting gaps where we might plant another beautiful specimen,’
    • ‘Ray then spent thirteen years travelling around Britain and Europe collecting specimens and studying animals.’
    • ‘He ventures above ground into wintertime Philadelphia to collect animal specimens.’
    • ‘Their work has brought them into contact with some macabre, yet scientifically fascinating, specimens.’
    • ‘Its displays cover millions of specimens, including fossils, meteorites, mammals, plants, minerals, and insects.’
    • ‘Borack shows the specific cases holding mammals, birds, paleontological specimens, fish and reptiles.’
    • ‘Studying specimens in the field may be limited due to time, budget, and weather constraints and making review difficult.’
    • ‘Scientists use these reference specimens to help identify and characterize agriculturally important fungi.’
    • ‘The expected value of analysing a single plant specimen, is the expected revenue less the costs.’
    • ‘Another corner of the display showed zoological specimens, minerals and ores, and surgical instruments.’
    • ‘The glazed shelves lining the walls were designed to house Alexander's mineralogical specimens and books devoted to the subject.’
    • ‘The animal remains seem to represent only dissection material and were not used as specimens for display.’
    1. 1.1 An example of something such as a product or piece of work, regarded as typical of its class or group.
      • ‘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. 1.2 A sample for medical testing, especially of urine.
      • ‘Specimens of blood or urine are the alternatives…’
      • ‘They will report on the foods they eat and give biological specimens for testing.’
      • ‘The volunteers gave blood and urine specimens at each lab visit.’
      • ‘He took a blood specimen from the appellant and the specimen was divided into two samples.’
      • ‘Miss Rossiter provided a specimen of urine to the surgery for analysis.’
      • ‘A few test specimens might well be arriving at the lab in the next few weeks.’
      • ‘The police officers required the respondent to provide a specimen of breath for a roadside breath test.’
      • ‘Sperm banks arose to store indefinitely thousands of specimens in a single location.’
      • ‘Urine specimens had been obtained and tested by the nursing staff.’
      • ‘Are there any medical reasons why a specimen of blood cannot or should not be taken by a doctor?’
      • ‘I require you to provide a specimen of breath for a breath test.’
      sample, example, bit, snippet, illustration, demonstration, exemplification, instance, selection, representative piece
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3informal Used to refer humorously to a person or animal.
      ‘in her he found himself confronted by a sorrier specimen than himself’
      • ‘My best guy friend was definitely not what you would call the ideal male specimen.’
      • ‘She was the perfect specimen: thin arms, long legs, pouty lips.’
      • ‘He was like the perfect specimen of man… but he wasn't perfect for me.’
      • ‘Here's another female specimen who's in love with him.’
      • ‘It took me a second to home in on that perfect specimen of manly-buffness.’
      • ‘Why I chose to surround myself with perfect specimens I do not know.’
      • ‘Out of the doorway came the most perfect specimen of male youth I had ever seen out.’
      • ‘I've known most of the world's most perfect physical specimens over the course of the last 30 years.’
      • ‘With Bianca's perfect figure, every single male specimen was bewitched by her.’
      • ‘She was born a perfect female specimen.’
      • ‘She was the most perfect female specimen in the whole damn world.’
      • ‘I was never a perfect specimen of boyhood and always got chosen last or next to last.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘You embody the perfect friend, the perfect companion, the perfect physical specimen.’
      • ‘I remember thinking he was the most perfect specimen I've ever seen.’
      • ‘He's a perfect American specimen.’
      • ‘The blurry embodiment of a male specimen was making his way towards Audrae now.’
      • ‘Too bad he is a member of the Underground Society, but he is still a perfect male specimen!’
      • ‘Critics were perplexed by this seemingly perfect specimen, and swiftly termed her bland and banal.’
      • ‘They had to be perfect physical specimens able to handle enormous amounts of stress.’


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