gen·er·al·i·za·tion | \ˌjen-rə-lə-ˈzā-shən, ˌje-nə-\

Definition of generalization 

1 : the act or process of generalizing

2 : a general statement, law, principle, or proposition made broad generalizations about women

3 : the act or process whereby a learned response is made to a stimulus similar to but not identical with the conditioned stimulus

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Examples of generalization in a Sentence

He made several sweeping generalizations about women. She was prone to generalization.

Recent Examples on the Web

The memo, in which Damore also made generalizations about gender and the kind of work better suited to men and women, led to his firing from the company. Tracey Lien,, "As diversity progress in Silicon Valley stalls, advocates call for a new approach," 4 June 2018 This obviously is a generalization, but perhaps there are enough players leaving non-European homes, and at an earlier age, to impact chemistry or tactical cohesion back with their senior national sides, which gather and play only intermittently. Brian Straus,, "The Factors and Figures Behind Europe's World Cup Dominance Trend," 8 July 2018 The twenty-inch isohyet offered a valuable generalization — conventional agriculture simply could not work without twenty or more inches a year, unless supplemented by irrigation. Johnforristerross, Longreads, "Taming the Great American Desert," 2 July 2018 The purpose of Fraser’s capsule histories is to rise above this kind of generalization, in favor of more specific accounts of how class rose and fell in American politics and culture at one time or another. Jedediah Purdy, The New Republic, "The Remaking of Class," 27 June 2018 But that generalization hides a major, growing gender gap among the young folks. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "Gigantic Gender Gap Opening Up Among Younger Voters," 21 June 2018 Gatsby’s fortune, business, even his connection with underworld figures, remain vague generalizations. New York Times, "Notes From the Book Review Archives," 20 Apr. 2018 All of it involves gross generalizations that don’t take into account the perspective of the woman. Rebecca Farley,, "Now Is A Great Time To Revisit John Mulaney's "Ocean's Eleven With Women" Joke," 30 May 2018 After that, many generalizations followed: newer versions of the counterfeit coin problem included finding multiple fake coins, differentiating between coins of arbitrary weights, and so on. Nicholas Diaco, Scientific American, "Privacy and Counterfeit Coins," 20 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'generalization.' 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 generalization

1761, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for generalization

generalize + -ation

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The first known use of generalization was in 1761

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English Language Learners Definition of generalization

: a general statement : a statement about a group of people or things that is based on only a few people or things in that group

: the act or process of forming opinions that are based on a small amount of information


gen·er·al·iza·tion | \ˌje-nə-rə-lə-ˈzā-shən \

Kids Definition of generalization

1 : the act of forming conclusions from a small amount of information

2 : a general statement : a conclusion based on only a small number of items or instances


variants: or British generalisation \ˌjen-(ə-)rə-lə-ˈzā-shən \

Medical Definition of generalization 

1 : the action or process of becoming widespread or diffuse secondary generalization of a partial seizure

2 : the act or process whereby a learned response is made to a stimulus similar to but not identical with the conditioned stimulus

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Comments on generalization

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a state of commotion or excitement

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