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

adaptable, all-around (also all-round), protean, versatile

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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

Learn its history, the places a passion for beer can take you, and how the great experience of sharing a beer with a friend, or stranger, at the bar is indeed universalLearn more about the documentary and check out the preview here. James Lynch, Popular Mechanics, "We Made a Beer Documentary and You Can Pre-Order It Now," 27 Feb. 2019 The fundamental themes of the play are absolutely universal. Adam Rathe, Town & Country, "Laura Donnelly's Family Secrets Became the Basis for the New Play The Ferryman," 12 Nov. 2018 One of the goals is universal access to sustainable energy. Fox News, "UN envoy: 1.1 billion people face risks from lack of cooling," 16 July 2018 Few pop culture rituals are more time-honored and universal than speculating who the next James Bond will be. Aja Romano, Vox, "Celebrating 10 years of Idris Elba becoming James Bond any second now," 10 Aug. 2018 Fulfilling that desire can become just as universal. The Christian Science Monitor, "Why nations are not alone in fighting graft," 21 June 2018 The comedian used his platform to become an advocate for universal health care coverage, as well as other political issues, including gun violence prevention. Mike Miller, PEOPLE.com, "Justin Theroux Avoids Running Into Ex Jennifer Aniston at Jimmy Kimmel's Son's Birthday Bash," 23 Apr. 2018 Its relevance to some heated arguments of our own age, around taxation and universal basic income and voting rights, are likely what earned it a place in Portland Center Stage's current season. Ben Waterhouse, OregonLive.com, "Shaw's 'Major Barbara' shows its age at Portland Center Stage," 23 Apr. 2018 Separately, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said Monday that there are no plans for universal speed limits on the country’s highways. Frank Jordans, The Seattle Times, "German official rebuffs call for halt to emissions checks," 28 Jan. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 Though these words, from the pen of Hans Christian Andersen, are an appealing notion, the idea that there might be universals in music which transcend cultural boundaries has generally been met with scepticism by scholars working in the field. The Economist, "EthnomusicologyMusic may be the food of love, but oddly, is not its language," 25 Jan. 2018 Brissett earned universal praised from coaches and teammates after the loss. Zak Keefer, Indianapolis Star, "Colts vs. Browns: 5 things I think," 23 Sep. 2017 The sailor and the nurse were intended as universals, and they are best seen that way. Time, "Celebrating Legendary LIFE Photo Editor John G. Morris," 28 July 2017 That said, this inclusive, open-hearted play, fundamentally and determinedly, traffics in universals. Chris Jones, chicagotribune.com, "Review: A bright, doomed relationship, laid bare in 'Bright Half Life'," 2 June 2017

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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Last Updated

13 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for universal

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

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More Definitions for universal

universal

adjective

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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