[ jen-er-uhl ]
/ ˈdʒɛn ər əl /
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See synonyms for: general / generals on Thesaurus.com

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Idioms about general

    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

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English, from Latin generālis, equivalent to gener- (stem of genus “race, kind”) + -ālis adjective suffix; see origin at genus, -al1

synonym study for general

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.

historical usage of general

English general (adjective and noun) comes via Old French from the Latin adjective generālis “common, belonging to all, belonging to a race or genus” (as opposed to speciālis “particular, belong to a species”).
The military sense of general (noun) dates from the mid-16th century; general officer and general of the army date from the mid-17th century. The heads of some Roman Catholic religious orders are called generals, a usage that began in the 16th century and applied originally to the Jesuits but now applies to the Franciscans and Dominicans as well; the usage was extended in the 19th century to the head of the Salvation Army.
The phrase in general originally meant “in a body, collectively” (a sense that is now obsolete), with a clear relation to the sense of the adjective general “with respect to a whole class, group, or category.” It later developed further to mean “usually,” which can be interpreted as meaning “as a general rule (rather than a specific instance).”


gen·er·al·ness, nounpseu·do·gen·er·al, adjectiveun·der·gen·er·al, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

How to use general in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for general

/ (ˈdʒɛnərəl, ˈdʒɛnrəl) /


Derived forms of general

generalness, noun

Word Origin for general

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

Medical definitions for general

[ jĕnər-əl ]

Of or affecting the entire body.
General anesthesia.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Other 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.