adj. & n.
adj. 1 a completely or almost universal. b including or affecting all or nearly all parts or cases of things. 2 prevalent, widespread, usual. 3 not partial, particular, local, or sectional. 4 not limited in application; relating to whole classes or all cases. 5 including points common to the individuals of a class and neglecting the differences (a general term). 6 not restricted or specialized (general knowledge). 7 a roughly corresponding or adequate. b sufficient for practical purposes. 8 not detailed (a general resemblance; a general idea). 9 vague, indefinite (spoke only in general terms). 10 chief or principal; having overall authority (general manager; Secretary-General).
n. 1 a an army officer ranking next below Field Marshal or above lieutenant-general. b US = lieutenant-general, major-general. 2 a commander of an army. 3 a tactician or strategist of specified merit (a great general). 4 the head of a religious order, e.g. of the Jesuits or Dominicans or the Salvation Army. 5 (prec. by the) archaic the public. as a general rule in most cases. General American a form of US speech not markedly dialectal or regional. General Certificate of Education 1 an examination set esp. for secondary-school pupils at advanced level in England and Wales. 2 the certificate gained by passing it. General Certificate of Secondary Education an examination replacing and combining the GCE ordinary level and CSE examinations. general delivery US the delivery of letters to callers at a post office. general election the election of representatives to a legislature (esp. in the UK to the House of Commons) from constituencies throughout the country. general headquarters the headquarters of a military commander. general meeting a meeting open to all the members of a society etc. general of the army (or air force) US the officer of the highest rank in the army or air force. general practice the work of a general practitioner. general practitioner a doctor working in the community and treating cases of all kinds in the first instance, as distinct from a consultant or specialist. general staff the staff assisting a military commander in planning and administration. general strike a strike of workers in all or most trades. General Synod the highest governing body in the Church of England. in general 1 as a normal rule; usually. 2 for the most part. generalness n.
[ ME f. OF f. L generalis (as GENUS) ]