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 generalizability (audio) , ˌje-​nə-​ \ noun
generalizable \ ˌjen-​rə-​ˈlī-​zə-​bəl How to pronounce generalizable (audio) , ˌje-​nə-​ \ adjective
generalizer noun

Examples of generalize in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Most are disturbed that people are quick to generalize, stereotyping all officers as racist. oregonlive, "For Oregon cops of color, George Floyd’s killing brought anger, disgust and layers of complications," 5 July 2020 Ships, maternity wards and single counties also don’t provide data that can be used to generalize about what’s happening elsewhere. NBC News, "How many people have had coronavirus with no symptoms?," 20 Apr. 2020 Ships, maternity wards and single counties also don’t provide data that can be used to generalize about what’s happening elsewhere. Marilynn Marchione, Houston Chronicle, "Reports suggest many have had coronavirus with no symptoms," 20 Apr. 2020 To answer potential criticism, the government could build on such rules to generalize more transparent practices. Aroop Chatterjee, Quartz Africa, "South Africa needs a wealth tax to help stop coronavirus worsening inequality," 30 Apr. 2020 However, De Blasio was widely criticized on Twitter for what some saw as using the actions of a relatively small number of people to generalize against the Jewish community as a whole. NBC News, "NYPD breaks up massive crowd gathered for rabbi's funeral in Brooklyn," 29 Apr. 2020 And this idea may offer insight into how the brain generalizes knowledge to learn efficiently. Simon Makin, Scientific American, "“Event” Cells in the Brain Help Organize Memory into Meaningful Segments," 13 Apr. 2020 Siegel cautioned against generalizing from one case, but said that a single person infecting three others in this instance was on par with estimates about infection rates without social distancing. Mallory Moench,, "CDC report reveals how coronavirus spread from patient to health care workers in Solano County," 16 Apr. 2020 People with traditionally hypochondriac tendencies usually have generalized anxiety about illnesses and symptoms, rather than about one particular disease. Jamie Ducharme, Time, "How to Manage Your Anxiety About Coronavirus," 27 Feb. 2020

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

10 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Generalize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for generalize


How to pronounce generalize (audio)

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.
variants: or British generalise \ ˈjen-​(ə-​)rə-​ˌlīz How to pronounce generalise (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

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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

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