I'm trying to find an adjective for the word species. Usage could be:

The zoo tried to maintain specieal diversity.

Is specieal the correct adjective for species or is there another word?


This link wordcraft forum suggests specific.

Would specieal be more appropriate?

  • 1
    The word originally was specific, but that's long been overtaken by its other glosses. I think you may have to go more general here and say taxonomic diversity.
    – Dan Bron
    Apr 16, 2016 at 10:38
  • You could go taxonomic diversity but that might be a little formal and unwieldy is certain contexts. The word specieal doesn't quite trip off the tongue for me atm, but that's probably because I don't know how to properly pronounce it yet?? Plus it is perhaps too close to 'special,' sonically? Are you sure you want to associate the two words in this manner? What would be the implications? Apr 16, 2016 at 10:45
  • 1
    For commonly used phrases you might try "biological diversity" for size.
    – Bookeater
    Apr 16, 2016 at 11:03
  • 3
    What's wrong with diversity of species?
    – TrevorD
    Apr 16, 2016 at 16:59

3 Answers 3


That would be special.

Constituting or relating to a species.
'The seven dark spots is a special property unique to Coccinella septempunctata.'

It was asked before on http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=2142703


  • Interesting! You should write out that this is from Wiktionary in your answer. I know you linked to it, but the Stack Exchange quotation policy also requires the name of the author or source. I wonder if this is backed up by any sources besides Wiktionary? It seems to be a rare use of the word.
    – herisson
    Apr 16, 2016 at 23:10
  • @sumelic I've added some references. Oxford doesn't mention it.
    – Bookeater
    Apr 17, 2016 at 16:43

More common in this instance would be to use species as a noun adjunct - maintain species diversity. There is a difference in usage between special (adj) and species (adjunct). And then there is the problem of confusion regarding the sense of special. See the quote below on regulations concerning species of special concern.

Increased Flexibility via Special Regulations Under Section 4(d) of the Act Section 4(d) of the Act allows the Service to implement special regulations that reduce or expand the normal protections for threatened species, if the Secretary of the Interior deems the special regulations are necessary and advisable to conserve the species. Such special regulations cannot be developed for endangered species. These special regulations may provide important flexibility to address species-human conflicts as the species approaches recovery and becomes more numerous and widespread.

That is from the USFWS. http://www.fws.gov/midwest/wolf/esastatus/e-vs-t.htm


I also had the same question. The answer I found most satisfactory for my context was "specific", justifying the phrase "trophic and specific marine ecosystems". You can check this Quora answer.

  • 1
    Welcome to ELU. Answers should be complete in themselves: why did you find specific the most satisfactory? Please don't reference external sites except as corroboration for your answer. Here, it appears the meat of your reasoning is elsewhere: it should be here.
    – Andrew Leach
    Jan 3, 2021 at 10:45

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