See more synonyms for general on
  1. of or relating to all persons or things belonging to a group or category: a general meeting of the employees.
  2. of, relating to, or true of such persons or things in the main, with possible exceptions; common to most; prevalent; usual: the general mood of the people.
  3. not limited to one class, field, product, service, etc.; miscellaneous: the general public; general science.
  4. considering or dealing with overall characteristics, universal aspects, or important elements, especially without considering all details or specific aspects: general instructions; a general description; a general resemblance one to another.
  5. not specific or definite: I could give them only a general idea of what was going on.
  6. (of anesthesia or an anesthetic) causing loss of consciousness and abolishing sensitivity to pain throughout the body.
  7. having extended command or superior or chief rank: the secretary general of the United Nations; the attorney general.
  1. Military.
    1. U.S. Army and Air officer ranking above a lieutenant general and below a general of the army or general of the air force.
    2. U.S. officer of any of the five highest ranks: a brigadier general, major general, lieutenant general, general, or general of the army.
    3. U.S. Marine officer holding the highest rank in the corps.
    4. (in numerous armies) an officer in the highest, second, or third highest rank, as one ranking immediately below a field marshal in the British army.
  2. Ecclesiastical. the chief official of a religious order.
  3. something that is general; generality.
  4. Archaic. the general public.
  1. in general,
    1. with respect to the whole class referred to; as a whole: He likes people in general.
    2. as a rule; usually: In general, the bus is here by 9 a.m.

Origin of general

1250–1300; Middle English < Latin generālis, equivalent to gener- (stem of genus) genus + -ālis -al1
Related formsgen·er·al·ness, nounpseu·do·gen·er·al, adjectiveun·der·gen·er·al, noun

Synonyms for general

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Synonym study

1, 2. General, common, popular, universal agree in the idea of being nonexclusive and widespread. General means belonging to, or prevailing throughout, a whole class or body collectively, irrespective of individuals: a general belief. Common means shared by all, and belonging to one as much as another: a common interest; common fund; but use of this sense is frequently avoided because of ambiguity of sense. Popular means belonging to, adapted for, or favored by the people or the public generally, rather than by a particular (especially a superior) class: the popular conception; a popular candidate. Universal means found everywhere, and with no exceptions: a universal longing.

Antonyms for general

Tom Thumb

  1. a diminutive hero of folk tales.
  2. an extremely small person; dwarf.
  3. General, nickname of Charles Sherwood Stratton. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for general

Contemporary Examples of general

Historical Examples of general

British Dictionary definitions for general


  1. common; widespreada general feeling of horror at the crime
  2. of, including, applying to, or participated in by all or most of the members of a group, category, or community
  3. relating to various branches of an activity, profession, etc; not specializedgeneral office work
  4. including various or miscellaneous itemsgeneral knowledge; a general store
  5. not specific as to detail; overalla general description of the merchandise
  6. not definite; vaguegive me a general idea of when you will finish
  7. applicable or true in most cases; usual
  8. (prenominal or immediately postpositive) having superior or extended authority or rankgeneral manager; consul general
  9. Also: pass designating a degree awarded at some universities, studied at a lower academic standard than an honours degreeSee honours (def. 2)
  10. med relating to or involving the entire body or many of its parts; systemic
  11. logic (of a statement) not specifying an individual subject but quantifying over a domain
  1. an officer of a rank senior to lieutenant general, esp one who commands a large military formation
  2. any person acting as a leader and applying strategy or tactics
  3. a general condition or principle: opposed to particular
  4. a title for the head of a religious order, congregation, etc
  5. med short for general anaesthetic
  6. archaic the people; public
  7. in general generally; mostly or usually
Derived Formsgeneralness, noun

Word Origin for general

C13: from Latin generālis of a particular kind, from genus kind

Tom Thumb

  1. General, stage name of Charles Stratton. 1838–83, US midget, exhibited in P. T. Barnum's circus
  2. a dwarf; midget

Word Origin for Tom Thumb

after Tom Thumb, the tiny hero of several English folk tales
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

Word Origin and History for general

c.1200, "comprehensive, inclusive, full," from Latin generalis "relating to all, of a whole class" (contrasted with specialis), from genus (genitive generis) "stock, kind" (see genus). General store attested by 1810, American English; a general hospital (1737) is one not restricted to one class of persons or type of disease.


late 14c., "whole class of things or persons," from general (adj.). Meaning "commander of an army" is 1570s, shortening of captain general, from Middle French capitaine général. The English adjective was affixed to civic officer designations by late 14c. to indicate superior rank and extended jurisdiction.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

general in Culture

Tom Thumb

A thumb-sized hero of children's stories from the sixteenth century on.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with general


see in general; on (general) principle.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.