1 : distinguished by some unusual quality especially : being in some way superior 2 : held in particular esteem 3 a : readily distinguishable from others of the same category : UNIQUE 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
being distinctive: as a : directed toward a particular individual, group, or end b : of special note or importance : unusually great or significant c : highly distinctive or personal : PECULIAR d : CLOSE, INTIMATE e : SPECIFIC, PARTICULAR
Online Etymology Dictionary
late 14c., from Old French especial "pre-eminent, important," from Latin specialis "belonging to a particular kind or species," from species "kind" (see species). Latin words with initial sp-, st-, sc- usually acquired an e- when borrowed by Old French. Modern French has restored the word to spécial. Originally with the same sense as special, later restricted to feelings, qualities, etc.
I gather from these definitions, the proper adjective to use is “especial”- to pay especial attention to. But I hardly encounter this use in common usage.
Any insight would be highly appreciated.