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'Gender-specific' has dictionary definition. It means connected with women only or with men only. I think I have also seen other words like this, formed with 'specific'. Now the question is how far this can be generalized when writing English. Can we create new X-specific pairs? Or we should only use the commonly used ones?

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    Such words have a distinctly wonkish register. I would adivse not to use them in a love letter, obituary, or children's bedtime story :-)
    – TimR
    Commented Nov 10, 2023 at 12:02
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    What do you mean by "pairs"?
    – wjandrea
    Commented Nov 10, 2023 at 15:49
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    @TimR what obituary-specific advice would you give for avoiding wonk-specific register distinctiveness? Commented Nov 10, 2023 at 19:22
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    @leftaroundabout Just to avoid "specific"-specific words. Otherwise, I don't have any obituary-specific advice.
    – TimR
    Commented Nov 10, 2023 at 19:35
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    @TimR thanks, I will keep that "specific"-specific-specific advice in mind. Commented Nov 10, 2023 at 19:49

1 Answer 1

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Yes, the suffix "-specific" is active, which means we can still use it to create new words as we need them.

It's mostly used to mean that each item or type in the category is different in some respect. The top nine "X-specific" words I found using Google's Ngrams tool all have this meaning:

  • domain-specific
  • country-specific
  • gender-specific
  • species-specific
  • age-specific
  • application-specific
  • sex-specific
  • antigen-specific
  • site-specific

The suffix also works with things which are unique, and don't have distinct types, in which case it means "specific to X" so we can have:

a set of country-specific strategies

meaning each strategy is designed for a specific country, and we can have:

a Canada-specific strategy

which means a strategy specifically designed for Canada alone.

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