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

The actress also wrote a fairly controversial essay last fall, criticizing the expectations put on women in general, and famous women like Kate Middleton, after giving birth. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "Keira Knightley Is Pregnant—and the Way She Announced It Is Surprising," 3 May 2019 Between Hetty’s mysterious disappearance (and triumphant return), Deeks and Kensi’s wedding, and the general action-packed drama that comes along with fighting crime, season 10 has been one of the best so far. Megan Stein, Country Living, "'NCIS: Los Angeles' Sparks Concern That the Show Might Be Ending," 14 Apr. 2019 What was the general design concept for Mercado Little Spain? Vanessa Lawrence, ELLE Decor, "A Mecca of Spanish Design and Food Opens in New York," 3 Apr. 2019 In general, bar soap cleans by physically washing away dirt and microorganisms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Cassie Shortsleeve, SELF, "Is Bar Soap Sanitary or Just Crawling With Germs?," 5 Apr. 2019 In general, stay away from posting pictures with alcohol and excessive partying or inappropriate clothing. Liz Bentley, Marie Claire, "My Boss Follows Me on Instagram — What Do I Do?," 1 Apr. 2019 Over the course of her pregnancy, the Duchess of Sussex has, in general, shied away from off-the-rack maternity clothes, instead opting for looser silhouettes from regular brands and favoring bespoke designer pieces. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Why Meghan Markle Rarely Wears True Maternity Clothes," 24 Mar. 2019 But in general, the panel affirmed that the current blitz of exclusives, these swathes of fourteen announcements at once, is a short-term policy meant to get people into the Epic Games Store and put pressure on Steam. Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "The Epic Games Store won't always push for exclusives 'at this scale'," 21 Mar. 2019 There are few ways to leave a gang while in prison: death or removal from the general population (the... WSJ, "Solitary Confinement Has Beneficial Legitimate Uses," 22 Mar. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

While the general is visiting for just a few days, the Air Force now has a permanent office at the Capital Factory (on the ground floor, next to the inevitable ping pong room). Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "Disrupting the Pentagon: Can the Air Force Learn To Love Startup Culture?," 12 Apr. 2019 President Trump and his trade generals want to make sure China doesn’t use the yuan to gain a competitive advantage again, and are asking for guarantees on currency stability as a part of any trade deal with Beijing. Nathaniel Taplin, WSJ, "Trump Wants a Strong Yuan—He May Get It Regardless," 18 Mar. 2019 The excavation will involve lasers, drones, and virtual reality visualizations, the site’s director general told an Italian wire service. National Geographic, "Headless Pompeii Victim Wasn't Crushed to Death, After All," 29 June 2018 The Legislature voted in 2016 to remove the Smith statue from the National Statuary Hall, where the general has represented the Sunshine State since 1922. Jerry Fallstrom,, "Statue of Confederate general Edmund Kirby Smith headed from D.C. to Lake County," 29 June 2018 But experts said that all the key positions and control of the income-generating offices still reside in the hands of the military, in an attempt to keep the country's generals happy. Antonio Maria Delgado, miamiherald, "Here's why Venezuelan leader Maduro won't push his old rival out of the regime," 22 June 2018 The company is working on a circular to send to stock holders, before a special general meeting yet to be scheduled. Krystal Chia,, "Noble Group Halts Shares as Restructuring Hangs in Balance," 18 June 2018 The two generals met in Helsinki, Finland, last week and spoke again on the phone Thursday. Jeff Zeleny, Zachary Cohen And Michelle Kosinski, CNN, "US and Russia 'exploring' possible Trump-Putin meeting," 14 June 2018 But South Sudan's government already struggles to support existing teams including ones for soccer, basketball and handball, said Josseline Samson Apaya, acting director general for sports in the ministry of sports, culture and youth. Sam Mednick, Fox News, "War-torn South Sudan launches youth rugby league for peace," 28 Sep. 2018

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

8 May 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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