Meaning of GENERAL in English

I. ˈjen(ə)rəl adjective

Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin generalis, from gener-, genus birth, race, class, kind + -alis -al — more at kin

1. : involving or belonging to the whole of a body, group, class, or type : applicable or relevant to the whole rather than to a limited part, group, or section

appearance of general decay

a general change in temperature

2. : involving or belonging to every member of a class, kind, or group : applicable to every one in the unit referred to : not exclusive or excluding

ladies, a general welcome from his grace salutes ye all — Shakespeare

those first assemblies were general , with all freemen bound to attend — American Guide Series: Maryland


a. : applicable or pertinent to the majority of individuals involved : characteristic of the majority : prevalent , usual , widespread

the general opinion

a custom general in these areas

the conflict became general

we, the people of the United States, in order to … promote the general welfare — U.S. Constitution

b. : concerned or dealing with universal rather than particular aspects

general history

4. : marked by broad overall character without being limited, modified, or checked by narrow precise considerations : concerned with main elements, major matters rather than limited details, or universals rather than particulars : approximate rather than strictly accurate

a general outline

bearing a general resemblance to the original

the rock formations of the state have a general northeast-southwest trend — American Guide Series: New Hampshire

5. : not confined by specialization or careful limitation : not limited to a particular class, type, or field : inclusive and manifesting or characterized by scope, diversity, or variety : broad , catholic , comprehensive

a general drugstore

a general surgeon

6. : belonging to the common nature (as of a group of like individuals) : generic

the general characteristics of a species

long shaggy hair is general among bears

7. : holding superior rank : taking precedence (as over others similarly titled)

general mananger

: having wide authority or responsibility

a general captain

the general board

— sometimes used postpositively

the master general

8. : designed for students without special ability or vocational plans

a general course in science

— compare college-preparatory , commercial

9. : of or relating to a universal term or proposition or a quantified statement in logic — opposed to singular

10. : involving or affecting practically the entire organism : not local

general nervousness

Synonyms: see universal

II. noun

( -s )

1. archaic : whole , total


a. : something (as a concept, fact, idea, principle, proposition, or statement) that comprehends the whole or total

a description that spends too much time on the general and too little on the particular

specifically : generality

b. : genus , universal


a. archaic : the general public : people

b. Britain : a servant for general work


[Medieval Latin generalis, from Latin generalis, adjective (in such phrases as abbas generalis, literally, general abbot)]

: the chief of a religious order of all houses or congregations under one religious rule ; specifically : superior general


[Middle French, from Old Italian generale (also, chief of a religious order), from Medieval Latin generalis ]

archaic : the commander in chief of an army


a. : a military officer of high rank — see brigadier general , general of the air force , general of the army , lieutenant general , major general

b. : a military officer who is junior only to a general of the army, to a general of the air force, or to a field marshal, wears 4 stars, and ranks with a four-star admiral of the navy

7. : the supreme commander of the Salvation Army — compare salvationist

- in general

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.