universal

1 of 2

adjective

uni·​ver·​sal ˌyü-nə-ˈvər-səl How to pronounce universal (audio)
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
2
a
: present or occurring everywhere
b
: existent or operative everywhere or under all conditions
universal cultural patterns
3
a
: embracing a major part or the greatest portion (as of humankind)
a universal state
universal practices
b
: comprehensively broad and versatile
a universal genius
4
a
: 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
universally adverb
universalness noun

universal

2 of 2

noun

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
2
a
: 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

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
The company is largely concerned about supply chain management — specifically, the apparent lack of a universal supply chain management standard. Nana Ama Sarfo, Forbes, 13 Nov. 2023 Butterflies are a universal symbol of transformation and rebirth, making this piece a thoughtful choice to wish them well on this next phase of their life. Erica Finamore, wsj.com, 12 Nov. 2023 But as distillers and professionals will tell you, there are basic universal principles of good tequila making. Jason O'Bryan, Robb Report, 11 Nov. 2023 So rights are not some sort of universal thing that every person has. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, 11 Nov. 2023 However, because the themes of her film are so universal, reality weaves its way in and out of our 40-minute conversation. Lorena O’Neil, Los Angeles Times, 3 Nov. 2023 Despite common critiques — the unrealistically big apartments and mostly monochromatic New York the characters moved through — Friends’ secret sauce was the fact that a group of people trying to grow up and figure out their place in the world is a pretty universal story. Lesley Goldberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 1 Nov. 2023 Recent attempts to enact laws requiring universal background checks and waiting periods have failed. Jenna Russell, New York Times, 31 Oct. 2023 There is no universal definition of a mass shooting. John D. Harden, Washington Post, 30 Oct. 2023
Noun
Vice President Harris, during her presidential primary campaign, articulated a true equal pay proposal, an initiative estimated to inject an additional $180 billion into U.S. coffers–revenue that could be used to offset the cost universal paid and medical leave as well as affordable childcare. Katica Roy, Fortune, 19 Oct. 2023 Felker has a knack for narrative detail like the Hold Steady’s Craig Finn, able to tap into the universal through specifics, but instead of the Twin Cities, most of the action takes place in Oklahoma and neighboring states. Jon Freeman, Spin, 24 Aug. 2023 Listings are ordered by popularity, the insidious universal of the online world. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 31 July 2023 Not only is there is a human universal of offense at violation of sacred norms, but those sacred norms vary from culture to culture. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 15 Sep. 2012 As passive night-fighting capability is far from universal in Russia’s tank fleet, and being first to detect and shoot often determines the outcome of tank battles, the sights are particularly important. Sébastien Roblin, Popular Mechanics, 29 June 2023 Therefore, the common view that positive illusions are a human universal is based on heavily skewed research. Shinobu Kitayama, Scientific American, 15 May 2023 By making Athena into an avatar of literary ruthlessness, Kuang transforms what could have been a character with foibles and compulsions into a universal, and thus somewhat boring, archetype: the writer who wrecks her relationships and transgresses every boundary for the sake of her work. Zoe Hu, Washington Post, 12 May 2023 This is the first change in testing recommendations since 2008 and makes testing universal for adults, rather than based on whether a person has any risk factors for hepatitis B infection. Valerie Debenedette, Verywell Health, 12 Apr. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'universal.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

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

First Known Use

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near universal

Cite this Entry

“Universal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/universal. Accessed 28 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition

universal

adjective
uni·​ver·​sal
ˌyü-nə-ˈvər-səl
1
: including or covering all or a whole without limit or exception
universal human characteristics
2
: present or existing everywhere or under all conditions
the family is a universal social unit
3
a
: including or involving a major part or the greatest portion
universal customs
b
: very broad in range
a universal genius
4
: adapted or adjustable to meet varied requirements (as of use, shape, or size)
a universal wrench
universally
-s(ə-)lē
adverb

Legal Definition

universal

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

More from Merriam-Webster on universal

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