gen·​er·​al | \ ˈjen-rəl How to pronounce general (audio) , ˈje-nə-\

Definition of general

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : involving, applicable to, or affecting the whole
2 : involving, relating to, or applicable to every member of a class, kind, or group the general equation of a straight line
3 : not confined by specialization or careful limitation a general outline
4 : belonging to the common nature of a group of like individuals : generic the general characteristics of a species
5a : applicable to or characteristic of the majority of individuals involved : prevalent the general opinion
b : concerned or dealing with universal rather than particular aspects
6 : relating to, determined by, or concerned with main elements rather than limited details bearing a general resemblance to the original
7 : holding superior rank or taking precedence over others similarly titled the general manager



Definition of general (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : something (such as a concept, principle, or statement) that involves or is applicable to the whole
3 archaic : the general public : people
b : a commissioned officer in the army, air force, or marine corps who ranks above a lieutenant general and whose insignia is four stars — compare admiral
in general
: for the most part : generally In general, things are going as planned.

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Synonyms & Antonyms for general

Synonyms: Adjective

across-the-board, blanket, broad-brush, common, generic, global, overall, universal

Antonyms: Adjective

individual, particular

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Examples of general in a Sentence


They have issued a general warning. The general consensus is that we should go ahead. The witness was able to provide a very general description of the thief. She began her talk with some general observations about the state of the industry. The book provides a good general introduction to the subject. My concerns are all general—nothing specific. The details of the new plan are different, but it's based on the same general concept. My general impression was that things were going well. They were found in the same general area. I'm going in the general direction of the store.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

In general in Korea, great acting is often associated with the voice and elocution. Patrick Brzeski, The Hollywood Reporter, "Bong Joon-ho on Enlisting South Korea's "Everyman" Superstar for 'Parasite'," 8 Sep. 2019 There were also reports that some SEALs had violated a general order prohibiting the use of alcohol. Fox News, "Navy SEAL Team leaders fired amid sex assault, drinking allegations that led to removal from Iraq," 7 Sep. 2019 Lovato, who recently shot an episode of Will & Grace, is happy with where her career—and life in general—is right now. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "Demi Lovato Shared an Unedited Photo of Her Cellulite: ‘I’m Tired of Being Ashamed’," 6 Sep. 2019 The court’s decision said that by encouraging people to live on its property, Gulf Shipbuilding had opened the property and streets to general public use. Donna Engle,, "Legal Matters: Is it legal to picket on a private street or a parking lot?," 6 Sep. 2019 Moving forward, Nicola Davis reports for the Guardian, the researchers hope to examine whether squirrels keep an ear out for particular species and if the rodents rely mainly on bird chatter or general foraging and jostling sounds. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Squirrels Eavesdrop on Birds to Check If Danger Has Passed," 6 Sep. 2019 Though Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro has been blamed for encouraging this year’s burning, in general government policies have suppressed the use of fire. Kate Evans, National Geographic, "Ancient farmers burned the Amazon, but today's fires are very different," 5 Sep. 2019 That’s despite Mills having paid her dues as a general news reporter for over a decade and the fact that reporting on the royals often requires expertise in politics and foreign affairs. K.j. Yossman, Marie Claire, "Inside the Cutthroat World of Royal Gossips," 5 Sep. 2019 Responses are for informational purposes only and individuals should consider whether any general recommendations in these responses are suitable for their particular circumstances based on investment objectives, financial situation and needs. Nathan Bachrach And Amy Wagner,, "Simply Money: Does Medicare cover overseas healthcare?," 4 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Next year’s election of the director-general of the World Intellectual Property Organization is one example where Americans and Europeans will have to work together to defend their interests. Scott Cullinane, National Review, "American–European Unity against China Is Indispensable," 5 Sep. 2019 Jeh Johnson, this does seem to be a problem for Biden, to me, more of a primary than a general. NBC News, "Meet the Press - September 1, 2019," 1 Sep. 2019 Dagher scored a notable coup in writing the book by securing the cooperation of Manaf Tlass, a longtime family friend of Assad’s who was a general in the Syrian army before defecting to France in 2013. Anthony Dworkin, Washington Post, "A view of Syria’s civil war, from Assad’s inner circle," 30 Aug. 2019 Ajloun Castle, built on the mountaintop site of a former Christian monastery in the north of Jordan, was enlarged and fortified by a general of the great military leader Saladin, as a citadel for defending Islamic lands from the Crusaders. Andrew Solomon, Condé Nast Traveler, "Traveling Through Jordan’s Historic Ruins, Red Dunes, and Dead Sea," 24 July 2019 Even so, Perot’s foray into politics gave credibility to the idea that someone without conventional government experience should be taken seriously, and Trump is the first president who hadn’t served as a governor, in Congress, or as a general. Todd J. Gillman, Dallas News, "Ross Perot's political legacy: Clinton, populism, Trump and the tea party," 9 July 2019 Not long after afterward, army chief Gen. Seare Mekonnen who assassinated at his home in Addis Ababa, and a retired army general visiting him was also killed, the spokesman said., "Ethiopia says military chief killed, regional coup failed," 23 June 2019 Small conveys the blustery confidence that has served Macbeth well as a general under the king of Scotland. Mike Giuliano,, "Outdoor production of 'Macbeth' in Ellicott City casts its spell," 13 June 2019 Plus, of course, Daniele De Rossi is gone; Roma need a new general in the centre of the park., "Transfer Rumours: More Griezmann Nonsense, Karius & Fred to Roma, Tarkowski's Future & More," 13 June 2019

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


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1550, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for general


Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin generalis, from gener-, genus kind, class — more at kin


derivative of general entry 1

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Statistics for general

Last Updated

11 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for general

The first known use of general was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for general



English Language Learners Definition of general

: of, relating to, or affecting all the people or things in a group : involving or including many or most people
: relating to the main or major parts of something rather than the details : not specific
used to indicate that a description relates to an entire person or thing rather than a particular part


gen·​er·​al | \ ˈje-nə-rəl How to pronounce general (audio) , ˈjen-rəl\

Kids Definition of general

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : having to do with the whole : applying to more than just a small area or group It's a matter of general interest.
2 : not specific or detailed The book is a good general introduction to football.
3 : involving or including many or most people Her plans won general acceptance.
4 : not specialized a general store



Kids Definition of general (Entry 2 of 2)

: a military officer ranking above a colonel
in general
: for the most part In general, I like school.


gen·​er·​al | \ ˈjen-(ə-)rəl How to pronounce general (audio) \

Medical Definition of general

1 : not confined by specialization or careful limitation a general surgeon
2 : belonging to the common nature of a group of like individuals the general characteristics of a species
3 : involving or affecting practically the entire body or organism : not local general infirmity

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gen·​er·​al | \ ˈjen-rəl, ˈje-nə- How to pronounce general (audio) \

Legal Definition of general

1 : involving, applicable to, or affecting the whole
2 : involving, relating to, or applicable to every member of a class, kind, or group
3 : not confined by specialization or limitation
4 : relating to, determined by, or concerned with main elements rather than limiting details
5 : holding superior rank or taking precedence over others similarly titled the general manager

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Comments on general

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


formidable, illustrious, or eminent

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