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 That’s a problem built into the bloated mash-up of genres: Comedy is based on particularizing human behavior, but allegory is based on generalizing it. New York Times, "Review: In ‘Terra Firma,’ a Wee Wet Country on the Brink," 10 Oct. 2019 The chromatic polynomial has captured some fundamental structure of the problem by generalizing our counting strategy. Quanta Magazine, "Color Me Polynomial," 13 Aug. 2019 Reed admits that the study is a small snapshot to generalize for all populations and animals. National Geographic, "Some animals can adapt to climate change—just not fast enough," 19 Aug. 2019 More research must be conducted to determine whether the results can be generalized to include a wide range of turtle species. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Turtle Embryos May Be Able to Influence Their Sex by Moving Around Inside the Egg," 2 Aug. 2019 The program will continue to target those groups, which will help make future research findings significantly more reliable and easier to generalize. Max Nisen, The Denver Post, "Guest Commentary: The government wants your DNA — don’t run away," 25 Aug. 2019 However, this policy ended up generalizing the truancy issue, placing blame on parents with circumstances outside their control. Alexis Jones, Marie Claire, "Kamala Harris' Attorney General Record, Explained," 16 Aug. 2019 Expand and generalize to other people, settings and activities Using modeling and prompting strategies to add new words to phrases the children have already mastered. J. Ganz, The Conversation, "5 tips for parents to build communication skills with children with autism spectrum disorder," 8 Aug. 2019 But physicists have tried generalizing the theorem to multiple-hole systems. Marcus Woo, WIRED, "A Child’s Puzzle Helped Uncover How Magnets Really Work," 27 Jan. 2019

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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Statistics for generalize

Last Updated

12 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for generalize

The first known use of generalize was in 1710

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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

Comments on generalize

What made you want to look up generalize? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


meddlesome, informal, or unofficial

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