gen·​er·​a·​tion | \ ˌje-nə-ˈrā-shən \

Definition of generation

1a : a body of living beings constituting a single step in the line of descent from an ancestor
b : a group of individuals born and living contemporaneously the younger generation
c : a group of individuals having contemporaneously a status (such as that of students in a school) which each one holds only for a limited period
d : a type or class of objects usually developed from an earlier type first of the … new generation of powerful supersonic fighters— Kenneth Koyen
2a : the action or process of producing offspring : procreation
b : the process of coming or bringing into being generation of income
c : origination by a generating process : production especially : formation of a geometric figure by motion of another
3 : the average span of time between the birth of parents and that of their offspring

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from generation

generational \ ˌje-​nə-​ˈrā-​shnəl , -​shə-​nᵊl \ adjective
generationally \ ˌje-​nə-​ˈrā-​shnə-​lē , shə-​nᵊl-​ē \ adverb

Examples of generation in a Sentence

She was worshipped by a generation of moviegoers. He was a hero to generations of students. We need to preserve these resources for future generations. His books are popular among members of the younger generation. That family has lived in the same house for four generations. The house has been passed down in the family from generation to generation. He has held that position for a generation. No one dreamed that such things would be possible a generation ago. The company claims to be developing the next generation of portable computers.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

After moving back to Washington with Emil, Joan, a third-generation nurse, again set out to work with low-income mothers. Tracy Saelinger, Woman's Day, "This Nurse Helps New Moms When They're Most Vulnerable," 8 Jan. 2019 Many of the newer generations of lower hormone birth pills have either very little estrogen or no estrogen at all, relying mostly on progestin to regulate your cycle. Amy Marturana, SELF, "12 Causes of Spotting and Breakthrough Bleeding," 28 Dec. 2018 But in Texas, O’Rourke has eclipsed Castro after getting closer to a statewide victory than any Democrat in a generation. Paul J. Weber, The Seattle Times, "APNewsBreak: Julian Castro moves toward 2020 White House run," 12 Dec. 2018 Blame the soaring rents, the aging proprietors, or a shift in how young people dine—whatever the reason for the taberna’s demise, in the span of a generation, Madrid stands to lose one of its most remarkable social traditions. Benjamin Kemper, Condé Nast Traveler, "Tapas Crawling With Madrid’s 'Taberna King'," 26 Sep. 2018 In every generation, there are those who put country first, who prize service ahead of self, who summon idealism from a cynical age. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Vice President Mike Pence Pays Tribute to John McCain in Speech at His Memorial Service," 31 Aug. 2018 Federal labor data for nuclear and other electric power generation shows the number of workers has dropped to about 63,000 in October from roughly 158,000 in 1990. Erin Ailworth, WSJ, "High-Paying Jobs in Nuclear Power Aren’t Looking So Safe Anymore," 28 Dec. 2018 The idea that one woman’s actions can reverberate across generations? Celeste Ng, Glamour, "Celeste Ng Reflects on Our Era of Rage—and Illuminates the Path Forward.," 21 Dec. 2018 Timing that release with the move to free-to-play could convince an entire new generation of Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds players to give Counter-Strike a shot...maybe. Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "Counter-Strike: Global Offensive goes free-to-play, adds a battle royale mode called Danger Zone," 6 Dec. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'generation.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of generation

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for generation

Middle English generacioun "procreation, development, offspring, lineage," borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French generacion, borrowed from Late Latin generātiōn-, generātiō, going back to Latin, "procreation," from generāre "to bring into being, generate" + -tiōn-, -tiō, suffix of action nouns

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about generation

Share generation

Statistics for generation

Last Updated

15 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for generation

The first known use of generation was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for generation



English Language Learners Definition of generation

: a group of people born and living during the same time

: the people in a family born and living during the same time

: the average length of time between the birth of parents and the birth of their children


gen·​er·​a·​tion | \ ˌje-nə-ˈrā-shən \

Kids Definition of generation

1 : those being a single step in a line originating from one ancestor This family has lived in town for four generations.
2 : a group of individuals born and living at about the same time the younger generation
3 : the act or process of producing or creating something the generation of heat


gen·​er·​a·​tion | \ ˌjen-ə-ˈrā-shən \

Medical Definition of generation

1a : a body of living beings constituting a single step in the line of descent from an ancestor
b : a group of individuals born and living contemporaneously
2 : the average span of time between the birth of parents and that of their offspring
3 : the action or process of producing offspring : procreation

Other Words from generation

generational \ -​shnəl, -​shən-​ᵊl \ adjective

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on generation

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with generation

Spanish Central: Translation of generation

Nglish: Translation of generation for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of generation for Arabic Speakers

Comments on generation

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


to gather or build up little by little

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three-bears-two-of-them-look-like-theyre-whispering-to-a-third-bear-who-looks-chuffed-to-be-the-center-of-attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!