universal

adjective
uni·​ver·​sal | \ ˌyü-nə-ˈvər-səl How to pronounce universal (audio) \

Definition of universal

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : including or covering all or a whole collectively or distributively without limit or exception especially : available equitably to all members of a society universal health coverage
2a : present or occurring everywhere
b : existent or operative everywhere or under all conditions universal cultural patterns
3a : embracing a major part or the greatest portion (as of humankind) a universal state universal practices
b : comprehensively broad and versatile a universal genius
4a : affirming or denying something of all members of a class or of all values of a variable
b : denoting every member of a class a universal term
5 : adapted or adjustable to meet varied requirements (as of use, shape, or size) a universal gear cutter a universal remote control

universal

noun

Definition of universal (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : one that is universal: such as
a : a universal proposition in logic
b : a predicable of traditional logic
c : a general concept or term or something in reality to which it corresponds : essence
2a : a behavior pattern or institution (such as the family) existing in all cultures
b : a culture trait characteristic of all normal adult members of a particular society

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Other Words from universal

Adjective

universally \ ˌyü-​nə-​ˈvər-​s(ə-​)lē How to pronounce universally (audio) \ adverb
universalness \ ˌyü-​nə-​ˈvər-​səl-​nəs How to pronounce universalness (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for universal

Synonyms: Adjective

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Examples of universal in a Sentence

Adjective an idea with universal appeal a pattern that is universal across all cultures
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Greenwell advises using browns and taupe hues for the eyes to create a very soft, smoky effect, and always topping things off with mascara (good lashes are universal). 5. Hana Hong, Marie Claire, "Why Princess Diana Always Looked So Damn Good," 10 Jan. 2020 Elizabeth Warren brought her Democratic presidential campaign to San Jose Friday, talking about the importance of her plan for universal, federally funded child care and higher pay for the people who work with those young children. John Wildermuth, SFChronicle.com, "Elizabeth Warren talks universal child care in San Jose visit," 27 Dec. 2019 Few things are more personal—and yet, also universal—than nail polish. Bella Cacciatore, Glamour, "The Most Popular Nail Colors Across the Country," 27 Dec. 2019 The latter offers a sadly more universal (if elliptically told) tale of filial resentment and regret. John Defore, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The 21st Annual Animation Show of Shows': Film Review," 25 Dec. 2019 The behavior wasn’t universal: 3 out of the researchers’ 11 test subjects failed to discern the difference. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "Dogs’ Brains Naturally Process Numbers, Just Like Ours," 20 Dec. 2019 Warren’s staff connected with his wife, Lauren Birchfield Kennedy, a health policy lawyer who runs a nonprofit focused on improving child care, including pushing for universal, affordable high-quality care. BostonGlobe.com, "No, not the Kennedy running for Senate. Warren’s staff connected with his wife, Lauren Birchfield Kennedy, a health policy lawyer who runs a nonprofit focused on improving child care, including pushing for universal, affordable high-quality care.," 2 Dec. 2019 Logitech Harmony Elite universal remote control and hub for $229.50 at Amazon and Best Buy (normally $269.99). Ars Staff, Ars Technica, "Dealmaster: Take $70 off Sony’s WH-1000XM3 noise-canceling headphones," 26 Nov. 2019 Nurturing teachers The lawyer Horace Mann, who became the first secretary of the Massachusetts State Board of Education in 1837, is best known for his leadership in bringing about the nation’s universal, taxpayer-supported, public education system. Kyle Greenwalt, The Conversation, "Even when they aren’t fired for being pregnant or gay, teachers face strict moral demands," 22 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The descriptions of leaving the body and blissful unity with the universal seem almost scripted from religious beliefs about souls leaving the body at death and ascending toward heavenly bliss. Robert Martone, Scientific American, "New Clues Found in Understanding Near-Death Experiences," 10 Sep. 2019 Many of the universals that hold up best are negative. The Economist, "A new book spells out the magic of language," 22 Aug. 2019 If there are universals among their tactics, they are probably linked to shared evolutionary history or shared strategies for hijacking a host. Quanta Magazine, "The Body’s Clock Offers a Rhythmic Target to Viruses," 30 May 2019 May 2019) Antonello’s real subjects are universals rather than particulars: love, despair, sorrow, amusement, and, above all, light. The New York Review of Books, "Ingrid D. Rowland," 9 May 2019 Her platform includes abolishing the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), making healthcare universal for all Americans, paid family leave, and more. Rachel Epstein, Marie Claire, "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Just Made History in New York," 27 June 2018 Patriarchal capitalism has arguably had a vested interest in promoting the latter idea as a human universal: as the Marxist psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich pointed out, with women providing free housework and caregiving, capitalists could pay men less. Kathryn Schulz, The New Yorker, "Japan’s Rent-a-Family Industry," 23 Apr. 2018 Like any good storyteller, Sean Dorsey has a knack for distilling the universal from the specific. Claudia Bauer, San Francisco Chronicle, "San Francisco’s Sean Dorsey Dance unpacks ‘boy trouble’," 12 Apr. 2018 But values are rooted in emotion and experience as well as reason, in the local as well as the universal. Alison Gopnik, The Atlantic, "When Truth and Reason Are No Longer Enough," 17 Mar. 2018

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

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for universal

Adjective

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin universalis, from universum universe

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Time Traveler for universal

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for universal

Last Updated

16 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Universal.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/universal. Accessed 23 January 2020.

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More Definitions for universal

universal

adjective
How to pronounce universal (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of universal

: done or experienced by everyone : existing or available for everyone
: existing or true at all times or in all places

universal

adjective
uni·​ver·​sal | \ ˌyü-nə-ˈvər-səl How to pronounce universal (audio) \

Kids Definition of universal

1 : including, covering, or taking in all or everything universal medical care
2 : present or happening everywhere universal celebration

Other Words from universal

universally adverb

universal

adjective
uni·​ver·​sal | \ ˌyü-nə-ˈvər-səl How to pronounce universal (audio) \

Legal Definition of universal

1 in the civil law of Louisiana
a : encompassing or burdening all of one's property especially causa mortis granted him a universal usufruct — see also universal legacy at legacy — compare universal title at title
b : of or relating to a universal conveyance or a conveyance under a universal title a universal donee — see also universal successor
2 : not confined by limitations or exceptions : general in application

Other Words from universal

universally adverb

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Comments on universal

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