Definitions

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

  • adj. Relating to or descriptive of an entire group or class; general. See Synonyms at general.
  • adj. Biology Of or relating to a genus.
  • adj. Not having a brand name: generic soap.
  • adj. Of or being a drug sold under or identified by its official nonproprietary or chemical name.
  • adj. Grammar Specifying neither masculine nor feminine gender: generic nouns like waitperson and executive.
  • n. A product or substance sold under or identified by a generic name.
  • n. A wine that is a blend of several grape varieties and does not carry the name of any specific grape.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Very comprehensive; pertaining or appropriate to large classes or groups as opposed to specific.
  • adj. Lacking in precision, often in and evasive fashion; vague; imprecise.
  • adj. Not having a brand name.
  • adj. Of, or relating to a taxonomic genus.
  • adj. Specifying neither masculine nor feminine; epicene.
  • adj. (Of program code) Written so as to operate on any data type, the type required being passed as a parameter.
  • n. A product sold under a generic name
  • n. A wine that is a blend of several wines, or made from a blend of several grape varieties
  • n. A term that specifies neither male nor female.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Pertaining to a genus or kind; relating to a genus, as distinct from a species, or from another genus
  • adj. Very comprehensive; pertaining or appropriate to large classes or their characteristics; -- opposed to specific.
  • adj. Not protected by trademark; -- used especially of the names of medications.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Pertaining to, of the nature of, or forming a mark of a genus, or a kind or group of similar things; comprehending a number of like things, without specifying them: opposed to specific. See genus.
  • Specifically In zoology and botany, having the taxonomic rank or classificatory value of a genus: as, a generic name or description; generic characters or differences; generic identity.
  • Relating to gender. See gender.
  • Of a general nature; applicable or referring to any unit of the kind or class; general; not special.
  • Distinctly characteristic; so marked as to constitute or denote a distinct kind.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a wine that is a blend of several varieties of grapes with no one grape predominating; a wine that does not carry the name of any specific grape
  • adj. relating to or common to or descriptive of all members of a genus
  • adj. applicable to an entire class or group
  • adj. (of drugs) not protected by trademark
  • n. any product that can be sold without a brand name

Etymologies

From Latin genus, gener-, kind.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Formed in English from Latin gener- (“genus, kind”) +‎ -ic. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The arbiter appears to the undersigned to have viewed the rivers St. John and Restigouche as possessing both a specific and a generic character; that considered _alone_ they were _specific_ ', and the designation in the treaty of "rivers falling into the Atlantic" was inapplicable to them; that considered _In connection with other rivers_ they were _generic_ and were embraced in the terms of the treaty, but that as their connection with other rivers would bring them within a principle which, according to the views taken by him of other parts of the question, was equally realized by both lines, it would be hazardous to allow them any weight in deciding the disputed boundary.

    A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents Volume 3, part 2: Martin Van Buren

  • But the former's concentration on strategy content does not change our conclusion: in fact, the term generic strategy is one of the most popular in the literature of positioning e.g., Porter, 1980,1985.

    The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning

  • Crazy, Stupid, Love opened a day before it did in the U.S., the Spanish title Warner Bros. originally affixed to prints was Loco Por Amor Crazy for Love, a moniker generic enough that it could easily have been attached to any Hollywood rom-com of the last 40 years.

    NPR Topics: News

  • In my community college English classes, I sometimes rail against what I call the generic paper, the kind of response essay that could be written by just about anybody because it is void of even a modicum of individuality.

    Joseph Smigelski: The Power of Memory: Use It in Your Writing

  • So what we have done, in addition, is propose a set of what I call generic sanctions for engaging in corporate tax shelter activity as a way of trying to deter that activity more generally.

    Budget Briefing By Administration Officials

  • "We don't think it's sufficient to build what we refer to as generic state universities,"

    azcentral.com | news

  • We recognized the need for what we called a generic structured cabling document.

    CNS Magazine - Headline News

  • Unfortunately DSB has one of the most cliched plots IMO (what I call generic anime #2).

    Anime World Order Podcast

  • She did not disdain "generic" substitutes and informed me that she would provide me with a generic alternative but indicated that I should not use that chain as a source.

    drugstores

  • Another patient, who'd been prescribed a drug still under patent and not available commercially in generic form, insisted that using the chemical name of the medication would allow the big box store to charge her only $4 for her prescription.

    Yolanda Reid Chassiakos: Big Box Prescription Bargains -- Less Than Meets the Eye?

Comments

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  • "J.T. Tillman was in that line. A computer specialist for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, he remembers every single number he played that day -- 10 of them, $2 apiece, for a total of $20. He doesn't recall what the violinist was playing, though. He says it sounded like generic classical music, the kind the ship's band was playing in 'Titanic,' before the iceberg."
    - Gene Weingarten, Pearls Before Breakfast, The Washington Post, 8 April 2007.

    March 9, 2009