Meaning of UNIVERSAL in English


I. |yünə|vərsəl, -və̄s-, -vəis- adjective

Etymology: Middle English universel, universal, from Middle French, from Latin universalis, from universus entire, whole + -alis -al — more at universe

1. : including or covering all or a whole collectively or distributively without limit or notable exception or variation

universal human weakness — T.S.Eliot

most of the twigs, pearled with water, were patterned very naked against universal gray — John Galsworthy


a. : present or occurring as indicated throughout the whole world : encountered everywhere

universal as the air — Samuel Rogers

b. : existent or operative as indicated everywhere or under all conditions

far from being infrequent, the crystalline state is almost universal among solids — K.K.Darrow

c. : having effectiveness, power, or action through a salient part of the world

a universal state, in the shape of the Roman Empire — A.J.Toynbee

3. : pertinent to or inclusive of all or much of mankind:

a. : practiced, observed, or occurring throughout all peoples or groups or a great many of them : commonly or unanimously followed, approved, or subscribed to by a people or group

petty gambling is nearly universal — W.C.Brownell

feudalism was not so universal there … as in the north — H.O.Taylor

universal cultural patterns

b. : marked by width and inclusiveness : embracing a very wide range of interests or pursuits : comprehensively broad and versatile

a universal genius. He wrote … logic, rhetoric, poetics, physics, botany, zoology … — Frank Thilly

c. : designed for general or worldwide use or applicability

interested in ideas of universal citizenship, in Esperanto and Ido and universal languages — H.G.Wells

4. : relatively unrestricted in application : of general relevance: as

a. of a logical proposition : affirming or denying something of all members of a class

b. : constituting a general term capable of denoting every member of a class

c. : common to all members of a class

food is a universal need of living beings

color is a universal attribute of visible objects

5. : of, relating to, or involving the totality of a person's legal rights and liabilities

a universal partnership

— compare universal succession

6. : adapted or adjustable to meet varied requirements (as of use, shape, or size)

a universal gear cutter

— compare universal joint , universal motor , universal vise

7. : of, relating to, or constituting a universal


cosmic , ecumenical , catholic , cosmopolitan : universal is likely to suggest that which is worldwide rather than pertinent to or characteristic of the whole universe; it is often further narrowed to refer to the world of men and human affairs or to important or significant parts of this world. It is likely to indicate a unanimity or conformity of practice or belief or a broad comprehensiveness

no other theory which has won universal acceptance — Laurence Binyon

the universal favor with which the New Testament is outwardly received — H.D.Thoreau

replaced a philosophy which was crude and raw and provincial by one which was, in comparison, catholic, civilized and universal — T.S.Eliot

cosmic is used to suggest matters pertinent to the whole universe as opposed to the earth, especially in suggestions of infinite vastness, distance, or force

sardonic phantoms, whose vision is cosmic, not terrestrial — J.L.Lowes

the great cosmic rhythm of the spirit which sets the currents of life in motion — Laurence Binyon

ecumenical applies to situations involving people throughout the whole world or all people in groups or divisions as indicated, often in religious contexts

the incorporation of all the broken fragments of the former Iranic and Arabic societies into the wholly different structure of a Western World which has grown into an ecumenical “Great Society” — A.J.Toynbee

catholic may stress an attitude involved, as well as a fact, in including, comprehending, or appreciating of all or many peoples, places, or periods

he was a catholic nature lover. The tropics, the desert, the tundra, the glaciers and the prairies all found a place in his heart — D.C.Peattie

cosmopolitan may imply an understanding and appreciation of other lands, sections, nations, or cities coming about through personal experience in traveling or living elsewhere; it often contrasts with provincial

one of the most entertaining and most cosmopolitan of novelists. Born in Tuscany, he was educated in New England, England, Germany, and Italy, became interested in Sanskrit, edited a newspaper in India — Carl Van Doren


generic , general , common : universal implies applicability to each one of a whole and usually precludes significant exception

a prehistoric and universal principle that the burden of defense should rest upon all able-bodied males — G.G.Coulton

habits both universal among mankind and peculiar to individuals — F.H.Allport

generic applies to that which characterizes every individual in a category or group and may suggest further that what is designated may be thought of as a clear and certain classificatory criterion

erect pointed ears are generic among foxes

natural that the preaching of men of all religious categories — except ranters — should have a generic likeness — Douglas Bush

general is used to refer to all, nearly all, or the great majority of a class, type, group, or number; it is less inclusive than universal and less precise in suggestion than generic

ethylene has come into general but not yet universal favor with surgeons — A.C.Morrison

nightfall brings about a general upward movement of the animal species, each striving to attain its optimum illumination — W.H.Dowdeswell

common indicates frequency, applicability to a majority, usually without being an identifying or classifying attribute; it may suggest a certain participation, sharing, mutual relationship, tendency to group together

the common, the perpetually repeated mistake of judging the savage by the standard of European civilization — J.G.Frazer

crowds … swept along by a common animating impulse — Laurence Binyon

II. noun

( -s )

1. : the whole of something specified : a thing in its entirety — used with the

2. : one that is universal (as in power, currency, interest, scope, or applicability): as


(1) : a universal proposition in logic — called also abstract universal ; compare concrete universal

(2) : a predicable of traditional logic

(3) : a general concept or something in reality to which it corresponds : an abstract and general term or something denoted by such a term : the essence of a particular logical genus : abstraction

b. obsolete : a remedy affecting or altering the entire bodily mechanism

c. obsolete : universe


(1) : a pattern or mode of behavior existing in all cultures

the institution of the family is a universal in human culture

(2) : a culture trait characteristic of all normal adult members of a particular society

3. : a metaphysical being (as the ego or self) that preserves or evinces an identity of nature through a series of changes or as embodying different relations

self-consciousness, wherein the universal , or self, is the organic total of the facts of consciousness — Josiah Royce

— compare concrete universal

III. adverb

: universally

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