gen·​er·​al | \ ˈjen-rəl How to pronounce general (audio) , 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

Antonyms: Adjective

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Examples of general in a Sentence

Adjective 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 Similar pre-emptive claims of voter fraud were made before the general-election contest with Hillary Clinton in 2016. The Economist, "Donald Trump’s refusal to concede is harming America," 21 Nov. 2020 Amy Dickinson joined Chicago Tribune in July 2003 as the newspaper's signature general advice columnist. Amy Dickinson,, "Ask Amy: Vacation plans have expanded too far," 21 Nov. 2020 The push to put the agencies on a more equal financial footing falls in line with Williams’ general pitch on the campaign trail. Matt Sledge,, "As early voting begins, heat rises in Orleans Parish DA race between Keva Landrum, Jason Williams," 20 Nov. 2020 The expansion of the Milwaukee workforce comes as Molson Coors continues to face challenges from the growing number of craft beer makers and other competitors, as well as the general economic turmoil from the COVID-19 pandemic. Tom Daykin, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Molson Coors says it will add 377 jobs in Milwaukee following its 2019 plans. So far, it has added more than 225 jobs.," 20 Nov. 2020 Burns said the survey found general acceptance from Republican voters of DeWine’s mask order, but resistance to further closures. Andrew J. Tobias, cleveland, "Trump tweet further complicates Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s path to re-election in 2022," 20 Nov. 2020 Seven states, including northern states of Durango, Chihuahua and Nuevo Leon as well as the capital, have at least half of their general Covid-19 hospital beds occupied, according to the Health Ministry data. Dale Quinn,, "Mexico Passes 100,000 Covid Deaths, Actual Toll Much Higher," 20 Nov. 2020 Because of the coronavirus pandemic, general fans currently are currently not allowed in the arena on game day. Charlie Goldsmith, The Enquirer, "Here are the Cincinnati Bearcats 2020-21 basketball schedules," 20 Nov. 2020 Trump has, in fact, ordered a drawdown in U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to be completed by mid-January — but rather in general nervousness about the unpredictability of Trump's actions. Star Tribune, "Iran's allies on high alert in Trump's final weeks in office," 20 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Now, the matter is in the hands of Mexico Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero, who will decide whether the former general is detained, investigated or released, Lopez Obrador said. Justin Villamil,, "Mexico Puts Sovereignty First in Ex-Defense Chief’s Drug Case," 18 Nov. 2020 The former general briefed Biden Tuesday as Trump, who hasn't accepted multiple outlets calling the contest for his rival, blocks the transition process. Naomi Lim, Washington Examiner, "'F---ing outrageous': Obama recalls Biden's recoil at Pentagon efforts to 'box in' Afghanistan strategy," 18 Nov. 2020 The prime minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha, is a former general aligned with a military junta who seized power in a 2014 coup. Miriam Berger, Washington Post, "How the U.S. election looks to pro-democracy activists around the world," 3 Nov. 2020 Demonstrators are calling for democracy and reform of the monarchy, including a new constitution, the dissolution of parliament and resignation of the Prime Minister, a former army general who seized power in a 2014 coup. Aj Willingham, CNN, "5 things to know for November 2: Election, Covid-19, US protests, Thailand, Poland," 2 Nov. 2020 Keeping with his long-running style as a former military general and dictator, president Buhari’s speech came off instead as high-handed and tough. Yomi Kazeem, Quartz Africa, "A tone-deaf speech by Nigeria’s president Buhari missed a chance for empathy amid national protests," 23 Oct. 2020 The Treasury Department on Thursday announced sanctions against Iraj Masjedi, a former general in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and the country’s ambassador to Iraq. David E. Sanger, New York Times, "Russia Poses Greater Election Threat Than Iran, Many U.S. Officials Say," 22 Oct. 2020 In November, a 78 percent voter turnout helped decide the closest popular vote in U.S. history, in which James Garfield, the moderate Republican and former Union general from Ohio, narrowly defeated his rival, Winfield Scott Hancock. Jon Grinspan, Smithsonian Magazine, "When Young Americans Marched for Democracy Wearing Capes," 21 Oct. 2020 President Muhammadu Buhari, a former general, has said little about the protest movement that has evolved from a single-issue campaign into a more diffuse protest against alleged government corruption, economic mismanagement and nepotism. Joe Parkinson, WSJ, "Nigerian Protesters Killed as Soldiers Open Fire in Lagos," 20 Oct. 2020

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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Time Traveler for general

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for general

Last Updated

25 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“General.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Dec. 2020.

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More Definitions for general


How to pronounce general (audio)

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 How to pronounce general (audio) , 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 How to pronounce general (audio) \

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- How to pronounce general (audio) \

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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