View synonyms for generalization


[ jen-er-uh-luh-zey-shuhn ]


  1. the act or process of generalizing.
  2. a result of this process; a general statement, idea, or principle.
  3. Logic.
    1. a proposition asserting something to be true either of all members of a certain class or of an indefinite part of that class.
    2. the process of obtaining such propositions.
  4. Psychology.
    1. Also called stim·u·lus gen·er·al·i·za·tion [stim, -y, uh, -l, uh, s jen-er-, uh, -l, uh, -, zey, -sh, uh, n]. the act or process of responding to a stimulus similar to but distinct from the conditioned stimulus.
    2. Also called re·sponse gen·er·al·i·za·tion [ri-, spons, jen-er-, uh, -l, uh, -, zey, -sh, uh, n]. the act or process of making a different but similar response to the same stimulus.
    3. Also called me·di·at·ed gen·er·al·i·za·tion [mee, -dee-ey-tid jen-er-, uh, -l, uh, -, zey, -sh, uh, n]. the act or process of responding to a stimulus not physically similar to the conditioned stimulus and not previously encountered in conditioning.
    4. the act or process of perceiving similarity or relation between different stimuli, as between words, colors, sounds, lights, concepts or feelings; the formation of a general notion.


/ ˌdʒɛnrəlaɪˈzeɪʃən /


  1. a principle, theory, etc, with general application
  2. the act or an instance of generalizing
  3. psychol the evoking of a response learned to one stimulus by a different but similar stimulus See also conditioning
  4. logic the derivation of a general statement from a particular one, formally by prefixing a quantifier and replacing a subject term by a bound variable. If the quantifier is universal ( universal generalization ) the argument is not in general valid; if it is existential ( existential generalization ) it is valid
  5. logic any statement ascribing a property to every member of a class ( universal generalization ) or to one or more members ( existential generalization )
“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 History and Origins

Origin of generalization1

First recorded in 1755–65; generalize + -ation
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Example Sentences

That’s a risky generalization, but Steele and his colleagues point to some other hints in the literature to suggest that this may be a common occurrence.

That assumption was based on several generalizations about the inner solar system’s evolution.

While it’s human nature and good data science to find and define patterns in a heap of customer data, too much categorization results in broad generalizations that may overlook important behaviors and perspectives.

There are likely many more impressive examples of generalization and creativity within the rest of the animal kingdom—of which we are of course a part.

He calls his scheme the “double simplex” representation, because the left-handed and right-handed particles of nature each form a simplex — a generalization of a triangle.

Glassdoor is comfortable making generalization about firms based on a sample size of 20 reviews.

This is not just a psychological generalization, but a kind of existential point.

I had some people come up to me after and talk to me—‘Oh, I disagreed with that,’ ‘I thought that was a generalization.’

Quite frankly, your generalization (one of many) that no 15-year-old is capable of writing as I did is false.

“It makes me so sad when people say print is dead because it's such an unfair generalization of where things are,” he said.

The number of cases in E. Mitior is too limited to warrant further generalization.

It will not do to lay great emphasis on minute details, and neglect the art of generalization.

But this very paradox leads to the real principle of generalization concerning the properties of numbers.

The former would be ranked, in our distribution, among fallacies of generalization, the latter among those of ratiocination.

The empirical laws which are most readily obtained by generalization from history do not amount to this.