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

Chief among them were his mother’s illness and death, which instilled in him the desire to ensure everyone had access to medical care, and the adjacency of Vermont to Canada, which afforded him a blueprint for universal health care. Sydney Ember, New York Times, "Bernie Sanders Went to Canada, and a Dream of ‘Medicare for All’ Flourished," 9 Sep. 2019 There may be some clues in this piece by New York Times writer Claire Cain Miller on a tangential issue: universal child care. Fortune, "Asking the Hard Questions About Universal Child Care: The Broadsheet," 16 Aug. 2019 Nuanced differences in various plans to achieve universal health care are secondary. Eugene Robinson, The Mercury News, "Robinson: Trump grotesquely made his visits to Dayton and El Paso all about him," 11 Aug. 2019 Iceland is a country that, at least, allows for universal health care and free higher education at state schools. Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, ""Progressive Ideas" in Democratic Debates Aren't All That Progressive," 1 Aug. 2019 For the first time in the months-old Democratic contest, Harris faced pointed attacks on her plan to provide universal health care. Author: Steve Peoples, Sara Burnett, Anchorage Daily News, "Democrats’ divisions in debates test Biden’s front-runner strength," 1 Aug. 2019 For the first time in the months-old Democratic contest, Harris faced pointed attacks on her plan to provide universal health care. Steve Peoples And Sara Burnett, Houston Chronicle, "Democrats' divisions test Biden's front-runner strength," 1 Aug. 2019 The differences between the two countries’ health plans are often highlighted in arguments for extending universal health care to all Americans, while eliminating private insurance. Lila Maclellan, Quartz, "Canada has an excellent health care plan. Bernie Sanders’s might be even better," 31 July 2019 The website doesn't expand on how to address the maternal mortality rate specifically, but focuses on plans to implement universal health care. Nina Bahadur, SELF, "We Asked All 2020 Presidential Candidates Their Plans to Address the Black Maternal Mortality Crisis," 30 July 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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Statistics for universal

Last Updated

9 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

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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