from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Concerned with, applicable to, or affecting the whole or every member of a class or category.
  • adjective Affecting or characteristic of the majority of those involved; prevalent.
  • adjective Of or affecting the entire body.
  • adjective Being usually the case; true or applicable in most instances but not all.
  • adjective Not limited in scope, area, or application.
  • adjective Not limited to or dealing with one class of things; diversified.
  • adjective Involving only the main features rather than precise details.
  • adjective Highest or superior in rank.
  • noun A commissioned rank in the US Army, Air Force, or Marine Corps that is above lieutenant general.
  • noun One who holds this rank or a similar rank in another military organization.
  • noun A general officer.
  • noun A statement, principle, or fact that embraces or is applicable to the whole.
  • noun General anesthesia.
  • noun Archaic The public.
  • idiom (in general) Generally.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Same as generally.
  • To command as a general; marshal.
  • Pertaining or applicable to or predicable of all objects of a given class, or all of a number of resembling individuals; universal within the limits of the class or group of things considered: as, a general law of nature; a statute general in its application; a general principle; a general idea; the general interest or safety of a nation; to labor for the general good.
  • Pertaining or applicable to, or predicable or true of, many or most of a class indefinitely, but by implication not to every member of it without exception; common to the majority or an indefinite number, or to a large but indefinite extent; prevalent; usual; common: as, a general custom; to differ from the general opinion; hence, indefinite; vague; not precise: as, to evade a point by general statements.
  • Comprising or pertaining to the whole; collective: opposed to partial: as, a general settlement of accounts; a general departure of guests; a general involucre (that is, one which subtends the whole inflorescence); also, pertaining to, predicable of, or occupied with a great variety of different objects having common characters.
  • Pertaining to the main features of the object; regarded in the gross, with neglect of details and unimportant exceptions: as, his general attainments are excellent; a general survey.
  • Having to do with all; public; common; vulgar.
  • Not specifically limited in scope, operation, or function; not restricted to special details, particulars, or occasions: used of authority conferred, or of office or employment exercised: as, a general power of attorney; a general officer of the army; a general mechanic.
  • noun That which is general or common to all of a given class or group; a general statement, principle, truth, etc.
  • noun A genus or class embracing all objects having certain characters, and especially including species under it. Now only in the phrase in general (which see, below).
  • noun Milit., an officer holding a general command (whence the title); the commander of an army, or of any organization of troops larger than a regiment: as an official title, used either alone for the highest or next to the highest rank, or with an adjunct designating the particular grade. See lieutenant-general, major-general, and brigadier-general.
  • noun A particular beat of drum or march, being that which, in the morning, gives notice to infantry to be in readiness to march.
  • noun Eccles., the chief of an order of monks or priests, or of all the houses or congregations established under the same rule: as, the general of the Dominicans, or of the Jesuits.
  • noun The public; the community; the vulgar.
  • noun Inclusively; without exception.
  • noun In all things.
  • noun In mathematics, in all cases except possibly in limiting cases or in case of some additional condition being fulfilled.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun The whole; the total; that which comprehends or relates to all, or the chief part; -- opposed to particular.
  • noun (Mil.) One of the chief military officers of a government or country; the commander of an army, of a body of men not less than a brigade. In European armies, the highest military rank next below field marshal.
  • noun (Mil.) The roll of the drum which calls the troops together.
  • noun (Eccl.) The chief of an order of monks, or of all the houses or congregations under the same rule.
  • noun obsolete The public; the people; the vulgar.
  • noun in the main; for the most part.
  • adjective Relating to a genus or kind; pertaining to a whole class or order.
  • adjective Comprehending many species or individuals; not special or particular; including all particulars.
  • adjective Not restrained or limited to a precise import; not specific; vague; indefinite; lax in signification.
  • adjective Common to many, or the greatest number; widely spread; prevalent; extensive, though not universal
  • adjective Having a relation to all; common to the whole.
  • adjective As a whole; in gross; for the most part.
  • adjective Usual; common, on most occasions.
  • adjective (Law) an agent whom a principal employs to transact all his business of a particular kind, or to act in his affairs generally.
  • adjective See the Note under Assembly.
  • adjective See under Average, Court.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Latin generālis, from genus, gener-, kind; see genə- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Anglo-Norman general, generall, Middle French general, and their source, Latin generālis, from genus ("class, kind") + -ālis ("-al").


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  • After the stricture and soreness of the lungs are removed, and the general febrile action is suppressed, it is desirable to give a _general tonic treatment_.

    A Newly Discovered System of Electrical Medication Daniel Clark

  • In the assembly of the estates, therefore, held at Toledo, 1480, in spite of all opposition, it was determined to establish a tribunal, under the name of the general inquisition (_general inquisicion suprema_).

    Mysticism and its Results Being an Inquiry into the Uses and Abuses of Secrecy John Delafield

  • Thus it only remains to treat in general of the question as to the reconcilableness of the idea of the origin of species through evolution, through gradual development, _in general_ with a theistic view of the world.

    The Theories of Darwin and Their Relation to Philosophy, Religion, and Morality Rudolf Schmid

  • A chief cause of delay in marriage is the prospect of the burden and expense of an unrestricted flow of children into the family, and in Great Britain, since 1911, with the extension of the use of contraceptives, there has been a slight but regular increase not only in the general marriage rate but in the proportion of early marriages, although the _general_ mean age at marriage has increased.

    Essays in War-Time Further Studies in the Task of Social Hygiene Havelock Ellis 1899

  • I repeat it, therefore, make it a principle in all cases, to aim as much as possible at the correction of those faults which are likely to be general, by _general measures_.

    The Teacher Or, Moral Influences Employed in the Instruction and Government of the Young Jacob Abbott 1841

  • It is impossible to recall without a shudder that there was at that time neither money nor credit, that the pressing debts were immense, the revenues exhausted in anticipation, the resources annihilated, the public securities valueless, the coinage impoverished and without circulation, the discount-fund bankrupt, the general tax-exchequer (_ferme general_) on the point of failing to meet its bills, and the royal treasury reduced to two bags of

    A Popular History of France from the Earliest Times, Volume 6 1830

  • "Well done, general in command of the flour (_general des farina_)," said the tremblers, admiring the military arrangements of Marshal Biron.

    A Popular History of France from the Earliest Times, Volume 6 1830

  • He read everything connected with general politics (meaning by _general_ not personal politics) and with social philosophy.

    Memorials and Other Papers — Complete Thomas De Quincey 1822

  • He read everything connected with general politics (meaning by _general_ not personal politics) and with social philosophy.

    Memorials and Other Papers — Volume 1 Thomas De Quincey 1822

  • I would also recommend to you to read useful books when you have time and to acquire a competent knowledge of History, both Ancient and Modern, especially that of the country in whose service you are engaged, as also such books as treat of your profession; and to pay particular attention to the lives and actions of those who have distinguished themselves in its service, who you will find to have been in general as remarkable for their moral, as for their military characters; and I hope you will endeavour to imitate them and, tho 'you may not acquire the rank, you must remember that you cannot become a _good general_ or even a good officer without first acquiring a competent knowledge of your profession.

    A Canadian Manor and Its Seigneurs The Story of a Hundred Years, 1761-1861 George M. Wrong


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