gen·​er·​al | \ ˈjen-rəl, ˈje-nə-\

Definition of general

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : involving, applicable to, or affecting the whole
2 : involving, relating to, or applicable to every member of a class, kind, or group the general equation of a straight line
3 : not confined by specialization or careful limitation a general outline
4 : belonging to the common nature of a group of like individuals : generic the general characteristics of a species
5a : applicable to or characteristic of the majority of individuals involved : prevalent the general opinion
b : concerned or dealing with universal rather than particular aspects
6 : relating to, determined by, or concerned with main elements rather than limited details bearing a general resemblance to the original
7 : holding superior rank or taking precedence over others similarly titled the general manager



Definition of general (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : something (such as a concept, principle, or statement) that involves or is applicable to the whole
3 archaic : the general public : people
b : a commissioned officer in the army, air force, or marine corps who ranks above a lieutenant general and whose insignia is four stars — compare admiral
in general
: for the most part : generally In general, things are going as planned.

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Synonyms & Antonyms for general

Synonyms: Adjective

across-the-board, blanket, broad-brush, common, generic, global, overall, universal

Antonyms: Adjective

individual, particular

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Examples of general in a Sentence


They have issued a general warning. The general consensus is that we should go ahead. The witness was able to provide a very general description of the thief. She began her talk with some general observations about the state of the industry. The book provides a good general introduction to the subject. My concerns are all general—nothing specific. The details of the new plan are different, but it's based on the same general concept. My general impression was that things were going well. They were found in the same general area. I'm going in the general direction of the store.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

But, in general, swelling isn't causing any lasting damage or endangering your health. Sarah Jacoby, SELF, "What Jessica Simpson—and Every Other Pregnant Person—Should Know About Swollen Feet," 11 Jan. 2019 Coupled with the low flying altitude of cruise missiles in general Kalibr-M would be difficult to defend against. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Report: Russia Designing Cruise Missiles with 3,000 Mile Range," 8 Jan. 2019 Ars contacted Patrick Berarducci, ConsenSys' deputy general counsel, and the co-chair of The Brooklyn Project, who did not respond. Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "Civil unrest: How a blockchain-based journalism startup bumbled its launch," 23 Dec. 2018 Tesla’s general counsel, Todd Maron, said that Elon Musk was apologetic for not escalating the matter sooner, according to the Times. Makena Kelly, The Verge, "Black Tesla factory workers describe racism and discrimination, NYT reports," 30 Nov. 2018 Movies are getting better at inclusivity, and that's making them better in general. Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "The Best Sci Fi Movies of 2018 That Starred Women," 28 Nov. 2018 Hydration is a crucial focus of the Skin-Care Diet — and Korean skin-care routines, in general. Devon Abelman, Allure, "Why Koreans Are Ditching Their Famous 10-Step Routines for the Skin-Care Diet," 29 Sep. 2018 After going 5-11 in coach Vance Joseph’s first season, Denver has done little better in year two and general manager John Elway could be ready to make a change after the season. Josh Dubow, The Seattle Times, "Raiders win possible final game in Oakland 27-14 vs. Broncos," 26 Dec. 2018 The bulk of the negotiations were handled by Ken Freedman, the general manager of the legendary New Jersey radio station WFMU, which oversees the FMA. Bijan Stephen, The Verge, "The Free Music Archive will live on," 12 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

For starters, the state attorneys-general who were pushing for this unpopular repeal scheme had to face the voters. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "The latest Obamacare ruling is part of a larger conservative attack on democracy," 15 Dec. 2018 Now the party’s leadership seems obsessed with the private lives of others, and the attorney-general, Ken Paxton, has been under indictment for securities fraud since 2015. The Economist, "Demography is not destinyBuilding a multiracial coalition is more difficult than it seems," 12 July 2018 Flynn has become an important exhibit for some Trump supporters who argue that the former general was mistreated by the FBI as part of a wide-ranging conspiracy to undermine the president. Spencer S. Hsu And Rosalind S. Helderman,, "Ex-Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn expected back in court for first time since guilty plea," 10 July 2018 The summit, which will bring Mattis and President Donald Trump together with the traditional allies of the United States, illustrates the tightrope the former general has walked since arriving at the Pentagon. Missy Ryan, Greg Jaffe, Anchorage Daily News, "At summit, Mattis faces uphill battle," 10 July 2018 The bill, which was approved by the House of Commons on Monday, goes next to the governor-general, the representative of Queen Elizabeth, as a formality. Ian Austen, New York Times, "Vote in Canada Paves the Way for Legalization of Marijuana," 19 June 2018 The former general earned a reputation as a fearsome military leader, but also a philosophical one who reads voraciously. Jonathan Tamari,, "Defense Secretary Jim Mattis strives to be a reassuring voice to allies in a chaotic time," 10 June 2018 Kim Yong Chul, head of national intelligence: A former four-star general, Kim Yong Chul is a hardliner who South Korean intelligence believes ordered the sinking of the South Korean navy vessel in 2010, killing 46 sailors. NBC News, "The key players attending North Korea-South Korea summit," 25 Apr. 2018 Under the Administration’s plan, the head of a separate US Space Command, a four-star general, would report directly to the US Secretary of Defense and the President. Loren Grush, The Verge, "Space Command is coming back, but Space Force still needs approval from Congress," 18 Dec. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'general.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of general


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1550, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for general


Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin generalis, from gener-, genus kind, class — more at kin


derivative of general entry 1

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Statistics for general

Last Updated

16 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for general

The first known use of general was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for general



English Language Learners Definition of general

: of, relating to, or affecting all the people or things in a group : involving or including many or most people

: relating to the main or major parts of something rather than the details : not specific

—used to indicate that a description relates to an entire person or thing rather than a particular part


gen·​er·​al | \ ˈje-nə-rəl, ˈjen-rəl\

Kids Definition of general

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : having to do with the whole : applying to more than just a small area or group It's a matter of general interest.
2 : not specific or detailed The book is a good general introduction to football.
3 : involving or including many or most people Her plans won general acceptance.
4 : not specialized a general store



Kids Definition of general (Entry 2 of 2)

: a military officer ranking above a colonel
in general
: for the most part In general, I like school.


gen·​er·​al | \ ˈjen-(ə-)rəl \

Medical Definition of general

1 : not confined by specialization or careful limitation a general surgeon
2 : belonging to the common nature of a group of like individuals the general characteristics of a species
3 : involving or affecting practically the entire body or organism : not local general infirmity

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gen·​er·​al | \ ˈjen-rəl, ˈje-nə- \

Legal Definition of general

1 : involving, applicable to, or affecting the whole
2 : involving, relating to, or applicable to every member of a class, kind, or group
3 : not confined by specialization or limitation
4 : relating to, determined by, or concerned with main elements rather than limiting details
5 : holding superior rank or taking precedence over others similarly titled the general manager

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Comments on general

What made you want to look up general? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to gather or build up little by little

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