gen·​er·​al·​ize | \ ˈjen-rə-ˌlīz, ˈje-nə-\
generalized; generalizing

Definition of generalize

transitive verb

1 : to give a general form to
2a : to derive or induce (a general conception or principle) from particulars
b : to draw a general conclusion from
3 : to give general applicability to generalize a law also : to make indefinite

intransitive verb

1 : to form generalizations also : to make vague or indefinite statements She's always generalizing about men.
2 : to spread or extend throughout the body

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Other Words from generalize

generalizability \ ˌjen-​rə-​ˌlī-​zə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē , ˌje-​nə-​ \ noun
generalizable \ ˌjen-​rə-​ˈlī-​zə-​bəl , ˌje-​nə-​ \ adjective
generalizer noun

Examples of generalize in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

And that’s another problem with generalizing GWAS results from one population to another. Brian Resnick, Vox, "Genetics has learned a ton — mostly about white people. That’s a problem.," 27 Oct. 2018 So, instead of generalizing an entire Spanish-speaking community by a using a masculine or feminine subtext, just opt for gender-neutrality. Araceli Cruz, Teen Vogue, "Merriam-Webster Dictionary Adds "Latinx" and More Than 840 Other Words," 5 Sep. 2018 And second, to me, comedy is a stronger category this year than drama, which makes sense, because, generalizing wildly, comedy is a stronger genre in TV than drama right now. James Poniewozik, New York Times, "Our TV Critics on the 2018 Emmy Nominations," 12 July 2018 Thus the machine can generalize to manipulate novel objects. Matt Simon, WIRED, "Don't Just Lecture Robots—Make Them Learn," 9 July 2018 Other influential studies that demonized MSG came under scrutiny and criticism because their findings were not reproducible or were designed in ways that their results couldn’t be generalized to the way human beings actually consume MSG. Yvette D'entremont, SELF, "We All Really Need to Stop Freaking Out About MSG," 20 June 2018 This is because the people who give OUT the credits for being domestic are -- not to generalize or anything -- women. Dave Barry, miamiherald, "Classic '98: It's a guy thing," 28 June 2018 And many of these stereotypes have been generalized from a single ethnic group to all East Asian people. Rae Chen, Teen Vogue, "How to Stop Fetishizing My Chinese Identity," 28 June 2018 Feint and trickery are generalized into a capoeira player’s worldview such that they are revealed to be an unavoidable part of the texture of life itself. Brittany Allen, Longreads, "Masters of Contradiction," 24 May 2018

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

1710, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for generalize

general entry 1 + -ize

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Last Updated

8 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for generalize

The first known use of generalize was in 1710

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More Definitions for generalize



English Language Learners Definition of generalize

: to make a general statement or form a general opinion; especially : to state an opinion about a larger group that is based on a smaller number of people or things within that group

: to apply (something specific, such as a theory or rule) to larger group


gen·​er·​al·​ize | \ ˈje-nə-rə-ˌlīz, ˈjen-rə-\
generalized; generalizing

Kids Definition of generalize

: to draw or state a general conclusion from a number of different items or instances Don't generalize about science fiction after reading only one book.


intransitive verb
variants: or British generalise \ ˈjen-​(ə-​)rə-​ˌlīz \
generalized or British generalised; generalizing or British generalising

Medical Definition of generalize

: to spread or extend through all of a body part or region or through most of the entire body

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More from Merriam-Webster on generalize

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with generalize

Spanish Central: Translation of generalize

Nglish: Translation of generalize for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of generalize for Arabic Speakers

Comments on generalize

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tremendous in size, volume, or degree

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