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 universal (audio) \ adverb
universalness \ ˌyü-​nə-​ˈvər-​səl-​nəs How to pronounce universal (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 There was some acknowledgement that what people had organized around, like universal health care and tuition-free college, would be difficult to address in the current political environment. Blair Mcclendon, The New Republic, "The Presidency Is a Bad Job," 19 Jan. 2021 Even for people for whom money is no issue, or in countries with universal health care, prompt diagnosis and treatment don’t guarantee positive outcomes. Genevieve Richardson, SELF, "Why I Refuse to Use Cancer Metaphors About a ‘War,’ ‘Fight,’ or ‘Battle’," 7 Dec. 2020 Some Americans are attracted by benefits of Italian citizenship including universal health care, affordable university tuition and the right to work and reside anywhere in the European Union. Valentina Di Donato And Ben Wedeman, CNN, "This entrepreneur helps Americans get Italian passports. Business has boomed during the pandemic," 3 Nov. 2020 But, for all his power and legislative skill, the dream of establishing universal health care—a system that delivered good-quality medical care to all people, regardless of their ability to pay—continued to elude him. Barack Obama, The New Yorker, "A President Looks Back on His Toughest Fight," 26 Oct. 2020 Sanders proposed a much more ambitious plan, Medicare-for-all, or universal health care with the government acting as the single payer, that Biden does not support. Author: Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo, Meg Kelly, Anchorage Daily News, "Fact-checking the vice presidential debate between Pence and Harris," 8 Oct. 2020 That number comes from a conservative group that inflated its estimate by including the costs of universal health care and a jobs guarantee (Climatewire, April 1, 2019). Adam Aton, Scientific American, "Climate Change Receives Unexpected Attention at First Presidential Debate," 30 Sep. 2020 That number comes from a conservative group that inflated its estimate by including the costs of universal health care and a jobs guarantee (Climatewire, 1 April, 2019). Adam Aton, Science | AAAS, "‘Try to be serious.’ Climate policy gets rare notice in chaotic presidential debate," 30 Sep. 2020 Most countries that have universal care allow this, except for Canada — which may explain why 63,000 people a year leave the country to get care elsewhere when wait times are excessive. Daniel Sem, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Opinion: Coronavirus is breaking America’s healthcare delivery system. That’s a good thing," 17 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun With a soaring stock market and historically low unemployment levels, there was no universal, pressing economic anxiety or crisis that Biden could soothe. Emily Larsen, Washington Examiner, "ANALYSIS: In a pandemic and economic crisis, Biden’s healer-in-chief pitch rings stronger," 17 Apr. 2020 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

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

24 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Universal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/universal. Accessed 25 Jan. 2021.

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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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