gen·​er·​al·​ize | \ ˈjen-rə-ˌlīz How to pronounce generalize (audio) , 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 How to pronounce generalize (audio) , ˌje-​nə-​ \ noun
generalizable \ ˌjen-​rə-​ˈlī-​zə-​bəl How to pronounce generalize (audio) , ˌje-​nə-​ \ adjective
generalizer noun

Examples of generalize in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web His team’s idea is to generalize this system to other situations in which a human and robot might collaborate—like maybe for an aircraft mechanic who wants a machine to grab a wrench for them. Matt Simon, Wired, 9 July 2021 Drug use is another fact of life on the street that is impossible to ignore but hard to generalize. Lauren Hepler, San Francisco Chronicle, 6 July 2021 Machines, however, notoriously struggle with causality and can’t generalize far beyond the data on which they are trained. Forbes, 29 June 2021 So the study didn’t provide any evidence that deeper CNNs could generalize the concepts of same and different. Quanta Magazine, 23 June 2021 The diverse Latin music community is hard to generalize. Ernesto Macias, Billboard, 3 June 2021 Miller said it’s unwise to generalize and expect a juror to think a certain way based solely on their political leanings. Kevin Krause, Dallas News, 11 May 2021 Our stories change when our imaginations are encouraged to humanize rather than to generalize. Los Angeles Times, 4 May 2021 Colin Greene, a physician and the health director in charge of a region with 10 counties, including Warren County and the city of Winchester, rejected attempts to generalize about those who are hesitant. Washington Post, 1 May 2021

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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Time Traveler for generalize

Time Traveler

The first known use of generalize was in 1710

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Statistics for generalize

Last Updated

23 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Generalize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Aug. 2021.

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


gen·​er·​al·​ize | \ ˈje-nə-rə-ˌlīz How to pronounce generalize (audio) , 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 How to pronounce generalize (audio) \
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

More from Merriam-Webster on generalize

Nglish: Translation of generalize for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of generalize for Arabic Speakers


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