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verb (used with object), gen·er·al·ized, gen·er·al·iz·ing.
  1. to infer (a general principle, trend, etc.) from particular facts, statistics, or the like.
  2. to infer or form (a general principle, opinion, conclusion, etc.) from only a few facts, examples, or the like.
  3. to give a general rather than a specific or special character or form to.
  4. to make general; bring into general use or knowledge.
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verb (used without object), gen·er·al·ized, gen·er·al·iz·ing.
  1. to form general principles, opinions, etc.
  2. to deal, think, or speak in generalities.
  3. to make general inferences.
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Also especially British, gen·er·al·ise.

Origin of generalize

First recorded in 1745–55; general + -ize
Related formsgen·er·al·iz·a·ble, adjectivegen·er·al·iz·er, nounnon·gen·er·al·ized, adjectiveun·gen·er·al·ized, adjectiveun·gen·er·al·iz·ing, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for generalized

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • He generalized, he particularized about the blacks; he told anecdotes.

    The Arrow of Gold

    Joseph Conrad

  • “Any ship is that—for a reasonable man,” generalized Marlow in a conciliatory tone.


    Joseph Conrad

  • Altogether it has been more thoroughly "generalized" than any other natural form.


    George Jack

  • This Mrs. Miner had generalized from long experience with her husband.

    Wayside Courtships

    Hamlin Garland

  • Correct idea but not generalized: “They were fools to listen to everybody.”

British Dictionary definitions for generalized



  1. to form (general principles or conclusions) from (detailed facts, experience, etc); infer
  2. (intr) to think or speak in generalities, esp in a prejudiced way
  3. (tr; usually passive) to cause to become widely used or known
  4. (intr) (of a disease)
    1. to spread throughout the body
    2. to change from a localized infection or condition to a systemic onegeneralized infection
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Derived Formsgeneralizer or 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

Word Origin and History for generalized



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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

generalized in Medicine


  1. Involving an entire organ, as when an epileptic seizure involves all parts of the brain.
  2. Not specifically adapted to a particular environment or function; not specialized.
  3. Generally prevalent.
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  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.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.