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[jen-er-uh-lahyz] /ˈdʒɛn ər əˌlaɪz/
verb (used with object), generalized, generalizing.
to infer (a general principle, trend, etc.) from particular facts, statistics, or the like.
to infer or form (a general principle, opinion, conclusion, etc.) from only a few facts, examples, or the like.
to give a general rather than a specific or special character or form to.
to make general; bring into general use or knowledge.
verb (used without object), generalized, generalizing.
to form general principles, opinions, etc.
to deal, think, or speak in generalities.
to make general inferences.
Also, especially British, generalise.
Origin of generalize
First recorded in 1745-55; general + -ize
Related forms
generalizable, adjective
generalizer, noun
nongeneralized, adjective
ungeneralized, adjective
ungeneralizing, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for generalise
Historical Examples
  • The rest is all the fantasy of the foolish, who love to generalise, till they cannot see the trees for the wood.

    Mystery at Geneva Rose Macaulay
  • I look at a strong tendency to generalise as an entire evil.

  • In his novels this tendency to generalise has almost a distracting effect.

  • While perhaps to generalise these delights, a trundled organ tossed a ragtime.

    The Paliser case Edgar Saltus
  • He would run away from his own individual case, and generalise widely about some future time.

    The Fixed Period Anthony Trollope
  • The universal man is no specialist, and has to generalise without his details.

  • A city can often generalise where a nation must particularise.

    The Social Contract & Discourses Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  • We cannot generalise concerning them, any more than we can generalise at home.

    Palestine Claude Reignier Conder
  • You cannot generalise from the actions of an individual as you may safely do in the case of a titlark or a gull or a donkey.

    The Land's End W. H. Hudson
  • Now I go round it all, look into its details, generalise about its aspects.

    Tono Bungay H. G. Wells
British Dictionary definitions for generalise


to form (general principles or conclusions) from (detailed facts, experience, etc); infer
(intransitive) to think or speak in generalities, esp in a prejudiced way
(transitive; usually passive) to cause to become widely used or known
(intransitive) (of a disease)
  1. to spread throughout the body
  2. to change from a localized infection or condition to a systemic one: generalized infection
Derived Forms
generalizer, generaliser, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for generalise



1751, probably a new formation from general (adj.) + -ize. Middle English had generalisen (early 15c.). Related: Generalizable; generalized; generalizing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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generalise in Medicine

generalize gen·er·al·ize (jěn'ər-ə-līz')
v. gen·er·al·ized, gen·er·al·iz·ing, gen·er·al·iz·es

  1. To reduce to a general form, class, or law.

  2. To render indefinite or unspecific.

  3. To infer from many particulars.

  4. To draw inferences or a general conclusion from.

  5. To make generally or universally applicable.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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