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

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 Not to generalize, but on the business end, for example, people are maybe less informed or simply less exposed to things. José Criales-unzueta, Vogue, 24 June 2022 So even though no two ship tracks look the same, the models could generalize well enough to identify them around the world. Wired, 26 July 2022 But the brain has its own ideas about how to organize, generalize and respond to external stimulation. Laura Helmuth, Scientific American, 19 May 2022 Weyand is justifiably hesitant to generalize, though. Alex Hutchinson, Outside Online, 26 Feb. 2019 How well does that data generalize to, say, swimming or mountain biking? Alex Hutchinson, Outside Online, 3 Apr. 2020 Researchers use deep learning to first explore what the vibration of a single flame sounds like and then generalize the approach to a larger fire that creates a variety of sounds. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 21 Mar. 2022 What gets less attention is the shortage of people who know how to make sense of statistical experiments and generalize them to a larger population. Allison Schrager, WSJ, 27 Mar. 2022 Intriguing as this was, the model only worked in two-dimensional space, and Dubovsky had no clue how to generalize it. Quanta Magazine, 1 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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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Last Updated

23 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Generalize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for generalize


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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