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 Hesitant to make generalizations, Webster said that while all train personnel are vulnerable to being attacked, women are more likely to be targeted by male riders. Katie Herchenroeder, Quartz, "Women in America’s largest transit system are underground—and under attack," 3 Jan. 2020 The lecture had ended with a tense exchange between Crucet and a white student, who accused the writer of making unfair generalizations about white people. Moriah Balingit, Washington Post, "‘A tale of two schools’: At Georgia Southern, a book-burning ignites questions anew about race," 31 Dec. 2019 Part of the answer is that historians, by methodological habit, are inclined to see all events as unique, rather than seeing them, as a political scientist might, as a basis for model-building or generalization. Peter E. Gordon, The New York Review of Books, "Why Historical Analogy Matters," 7 Jan. 2020 Then there were the generalizations being thrown around, a blame-the-media game that was transparent and tiresome., "Most of the media found Antonio Brown story a nuisance - The Boston Globe," 22 Sep. 2019 But the group of about 150 mostly black voters drawn to the two debate watch parties hosted by Black Voters Matter, a PAC working to engage black voters across the country, resisted generalization. NBC News, "Democratic debates draw mixed reactions from black voters in Detroit, Flint," 1 Aug. 2019 At the risk of gross over generalization, doctors tend to avoid change. Robert H. Shmerling,, "Surgeons are doing fewer knee surgeries," 18 Sep. 2019 In the Current Biology paper, Concha and her co-authors note that evolution is too complicated for generalizations. Lila Thulin, Smithsonian, "What butterflies’ Colorful Wing Patterns Can Teach Us About Evolution," 18 Nov. 2019 But that easy generalization is too simple, almost a cartoon, to capture the complex nature of Detroit's reality and its changing image. John Gallagher, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit's reputation is rising, but recovery still has a long way to go," 3 Nov. 2019

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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Statistics for generalization

Last Updated

4 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Generalization.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for generalization


How to pronounce generalization (audio)

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 generalisation (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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