Speck vs. Spec

Photo of author


Speck and spec are two words that are pronounced in the same manner but are spelled differently and have different meanings, which makes them homophones. We will examine the definitions of speck and spec, where these words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

A speck is a small particle, stain or spot. Speck may be used as a noun or a transitive verb, which is a verb that takes an object. Related words are specks, specked, specking, though the verb speckle is more commonly used to mean covered in small specks. In British English, the word speck may refer to a specific type of smoked ham that is produced in Italy. The word speck is derived from the Old English word specca, which means a small stain or spot, probably from the Dutch word speckel.

Spec is an abbreviation of the word specification. The word spec is almost exclusively used in the phrase on spec, which means to produce something such as a novel with no buyer awaiting its completion, and no guarantee of selling the item. The plural form, specs, is often used to refer to the specifications that are used as standards in constructing something such as an electronic device or a building. The abbreviation spec was first used in the mid-1950s.


More than once during Louis Theroux: Talking To Anorexia (BBC Two), the deadpan documentarian appeared to have a speck in his eye. (The Telegraph)

Alan Murray, Time Inc chief content officer and Fortune president, tweeted that there’s “not a speck of truth here.” (Fortune Magazine)

“I’m not going to build on spec a one-car garage,” Doty said, using jargon for a house build on speculation that an as-of-yet-unknown buyer will be there when the home is complete. (The Post Bulletin)

The recent weeks featured a number of design and specs leaks for the next Huawei Nova smartphone. (Christian Today)

Enjoyed reading about these homophones? Check out some others we covered: