Etymology
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especial (adj.)

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- in Old French (see e-). Modern French has restored the word to spécial. In English, originally with the same sense as special (adj.), later restricted to feelings, qualities, etc.

updated on September 10, 2014

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Definitions of especial from WordNet

especial (adj.)
surpassing what is common or usual or expected;
he paid especial attention to her
Etymologies are not definitions. From wordnet.princeton.edu, not affiliated with etymonline.