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

Example Sentences

Adjective an idea with universal appeal a pattern that is universal across all cultures
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
Thread is speedier than Wi-Fi and acts as a universal language that connects smart devices across different platforms. Hunter Fenollol, Popular Mechanics, 10 Nov. 2022 The expansion of social services, the development of a public banking system and the provision of a universal basic income may also be important components of meaningful change. Alec Stubbs, The Conversation, 10 Nov. 2022 Lance’s had that universal language, something that felt immediately relatable and cinematic. Los Angeles Times, 21 Oct. 2022 Music, a universal language, has a palpable effect on the human nervous system, lifts spirits, brings people together. cleveland, 4 Oct. 2022 Neal Rubin tried to high-five a 4-year-old at Freedom House this week and wound up wrapped in a hug − an even more universal language. Detroit Free Press, 29 Sep. 2022 The concept, sometimes referred to as universal basic income, has had advocates for decades. Kurtis Lee, BostonGlobe.com, 10 Sep. 2022 The film explores what happens when universal basic income (UBI) comes to the Kenyan village of Kogutu. Brent Lang, Variety, 8 Sep. 2022 Her entrepreneurial skills and her passion found a purpose in continuing the work her husband began, using the powerful universal language that is soccer. Dom Amore, Hartford Courant, 3 Sep. 2022
Noun
The practice of establishing and enforcing strict requirements for public apology is not a human universal. Jill Lepore, The New Yorker, 7 Nov. 2022 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, 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, 10 Sep. 2019 Many of the universals that hold up best are negative. The Economist, 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, 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, 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, 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, 23 Apr. 2018 See More

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.

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 29 Nov. 2022.

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

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