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

4a : general officer

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.

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for general

Synonyms: Adjective

common, majority, overall, popular, prevailing, public, received, ruling, vulgar

Antonyms: Adjective

uncommon, unpopular

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

In the seven weeks since pitcher Noah Syndergaard landed on the disabled list, the Mets lost their general manager to illness, lost more players to injuries, and sunk to the worst record in the National League. James Wagner, New York Times, "Syndergaard Returns for Five Innings in Mets’ Win Over Nationals," 13 July 2018 The location has no plans of closing anytime soon, according to store general manager Sandi Harding. Stephen Sorace, Fox News, "Blockbuster video stores closing in Alaska, leaving chain with 1 location in US," 13 July 2018 But the cost was a first-round pick to the Nets as Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks continues to collect assets. Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY, "Atlanta Hawks land Jeremy Lin from Brooklyn Nets," 13 July 2018 McAdoo, along with general manager Jerry Reese, was fired with four games left in the season. Charlotte Carroll,, "Ex-Giants Coach Ben McAdoo Talks Division, Rips Offensive Line," 13 July 2018 German, Austrian, Alsatian and northeastern Italian wines populate an impressive list offering surprisingly dry reislings alongside sweeter wines selected by Liter House general manager and sommelier Lindsay Slone, formerly of Tinker Street. Liz Biro, Indianapolis Star, "Liter House restaurant brings German beer, food south of Broad Ripple," 11 July 2018 Knicks general manager Scott Perry is trying to slow some of the hype though. Jon Hale, The Courier-Journal, "Kentucky's Kevin Knox is dominating in the NBA Las Vegas summer league," 11 July 2018 Risky draft by former Warriors assistant general manager Travis Schlenk, now the man in Atlanta, but Young will be a hoot to watch. Scott Ostler,, "Some summer fun at NBA’s Summer League," 10 July 2018 In general, though, it's not advised to use any products (including creams, gels, douches, and wipes) on your vaginal region, and that includes talcum powder., "Johnson & Johnson Owes $4.69 Billion In Another Ovarian Cancer Case," 13 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

But the American and other allied troops who helped crush IS are quietly heading home, and their generals are packing away their counter-insurgency field manuals. The Economist, "Jihadists are trying to take over the Sahel," 12 July 2018 Switzerland and Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka has gone on a lengthy rant following comments from the Swiss FA's secretary general, Alex Miescher., "Granit Xhaka Hits Out at Swiss FA Following Controversial Comments on Dual Nationality," 8 July 2018 And his generals have unleashed thousands of intergalactic hounds — what look to be a cross between snapping turtles and WWE wrestlers — upon Wakanda. Alex Abad-santos, Vox, "Avengers: Infinity War isn’t the best Marvel movie. But it’s Marvel’s most daring.," 24 Apr. 2018 Just a few weeks ago, the man was calling on his generals to withdraw all U.S. troops and humanitarian aid from Syria. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "Trump Believes ‘He Alone’ Can End the Korean War – and He Might Be Right," 19 Apr. 2018 The winner will go up against Democrat Jenny Wilson in the general. Natasha Bach, Fortune, "These Are the Crucial Primary Races You Should Be Watching Today," 26 June 2018 Her comments added the voice of America's closest ally to criticism expressed Tuesday by the governments of Mexico, El Salvador and France, as well as the secretary general of the United Nations. Chico Harlan And William Branigin, Houston Chronicle, "Pope Francis criticizes Trump's family-separation policy, says 'populism is not the solution'," 20 June 2018 Trump's endorsement might hurt Renacci in the general. Scott Wartman,, "This new poll about Ohio's 2018 election should worry Republicans," 12 June 2018 But as humans in general are seeing less malevolent possibilities in robotic aircraft, people who make art are finding inventive ways to use it. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, "How Drones Are Revolutionizing the Way Film and Television Is Made," 31 May 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about general

Statistics for general

Last Updated

9 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for general

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more


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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


something that serves to warn or remind

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Autumn Words of the Day 2018

  • a-top-down-image-of-road-through-an-autumn-forest
  • Which is a synonym of fugacious?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!