gen·​er·​al·​i·​za·​tion | \ ˌjen-rə-lə-ˈzā-shən How to pronounce generalization (audio) , 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 But the generalization doesn’t bear up to broader scrutiny. Francis Fukuyama, WSJ, "Francis Fukuyama on the State of Democracy in 2020 and Beyond," 15 Dec. 2020 Autism spectrum disorder defies simple generalization, analysts say. Washington Post, "A killer on trial for murder is blaming his autism. The autism community is outraged.," 2 Dec. 2020 The other key generalization is that these costs can be brought down. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "As renewable power prices drop, researchers tally up their added costs," 3 Nov. 2020 Whatever its claims to intimacy or revelation, the book is really an extended tribute to the comforts of Amis’s favorite forms of armored thinking—dichotomy, taxonomy, generalization, definition, prescription, and proscription. Leo Robson, Harper's Magazine, "A Swing and Amis," 27 Oct. 2020 There’s an implicit generalization to this kind of image production and indeed, seen over time, composite portraiture would become a way to amalgamate and assess an entire culture, even an era. Jessica Helfand, Scientific American, "Darwin, Expression, and the Lasting Legacy of Eugenics," 13 Aug. 2020 The generalization that headdresses are worn by all Indigenous peoples is a result of years of misunderstanding and cultural theft for the benefit of non-Indigenous people — Halloween costumes are just one example of that on-going theft. Sheena Louise Roetman, Woman's Day, "There Is a Big Difference Between Cultural Appropriation and Appreciation," 2 Oct. 2020 Romanticizing the past often risks snubbing modern innovation, but the generalization that things were better back in the good ol’ days may be true of the cast-iron skillet. Paige Szmodis, Popular Mechanics, "The 10 Best Cast-Iron Skillets to Last a Lifetime," 10 Sep. 2020 He’s been reproached for oversimplification and vast generalization, for illogical arguments and a lack of critical thinking. Irina Dumitrescu, Longreads, "How to Learn Everything: The MasterClass Diaries," 20 Aug. 2020

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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Time Traveler for generalization

Time Traveler

The first known use of generalization was in 1761

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Cite this Entry

“Generalization.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for generalization



English Language Learners Definition of generalization

often disapproving
: 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 How to pronounce generalization (audio) \

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 How to pronounce generalization (audio) \

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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