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

  • adjective Of, relating to, or affecting the entire universe.
  • adjective Including, relating to, or affecting all members of the class or group under consideration; applicable in all cases: synonym: general.
  • adjective Done, produced, or shared by all members of the class or group under consideration.
  • adjective Adapted or adjustable to many sizes, uses, or devices.
  • adjective Logic Encompassing all of the members of a class or group. Used of a proposition.
  • noun A universal proposition.
  • noun A general or abstract concept or term considered absolute or axiomatic.
  • noun A general or widely held principle, concept, or notion.
  • noun A trait or pattern of behavior characteristic of all the members of a particular culture or of all humans.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Pertaining to the universe in its entirety, or to the human race collectively.
  • Pertaining to all things or to all mankind distributively. This is the original and most proper signification.
  • Belonging to or predicated of all the members of a class considered without exception: as, a universal rule.
  • In logic, capable of being predicated of many individuals or single cases; general.
  • Synonyms General, etc. See common.
  • noun In logic: One of the five predicables of the Aristotelians, or logical varieties of predicates, which are said to be genus, species, difference, property, and accident.
  • noun A general term or predicate, or the general nature which such a term signifies.
  • noun The whole; the system of the universe.
  • In mech., having feed-motions of the work against the cutter or tool in all possible directions (both right and left, forward and back, and up and down). Since tools of this type have usually a wide range of adaptable cutters, the term has been extended to mean having a very wide range of uses, or capable of doing nearly all kinds of work. It is the contradictory of special (in this use), which is applied to a tool that is designed for one class of work and no other.
  • A form of pipe-union in which the two pieces joined together, end to end, may be at an angle with each other, or not in line: effected by the use of a spherical surface of contact, one half male and the other female, pressed together by a nut forming part of the female half.

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

  • noun obsolete The whole; the general system of the universe; the universe.
  • noun A general abstract conception, so called from being universally applicable to, or predicable of, each individual or species contained under it.
  • noun A universal proposition. See Universal, a., 4.
  • adjective Of or pertaining to the universe; extending to, including, or affecting, the whole number, quantity, or space; unlimited; general; all-reaching; all-pervading
  • adjective Constituting or considered as a whole; total; entire; whole.
  • adjective (Mech.) Adapted or adaptable to all or to various uses, shapes, sizes, etc..
  • adjective (Logic) Forming the whole of a genus; relatively unlimited in extension; affirmed or denied of the whole of a subject; ; -- opposed to particular; e. g. (universal affirmative) All men are animals; (universal negative) No men are omniscient.
  • adjective (Mach.) a chuck, as for a lathe, having jaws which can be moved simultaneously so as to grasp objects of various sizes.
  • adjective the whole church of God in the world; the catholic church. See the Note under Catholic, a., 1.
  • adjective (Mach.) Same as Universal joint, below.
  • adjective a dial by which the hour may be found in any part of the world, or under any elevation of the pole.
  • adjective (Astron.) a species of altitude and azimuth instrument, the peculiarity of which is, that the object end of the telescope is placed at right angles to the eye end, with a prism of total reflection at the angle, and the eye end constitutes a portion of the horizontal axis of the instrument, having the eyepiece at the pivot and in the center of the altitude circle, so that the eye has convenient access to both at the same time.
  • adjective (Mach.) a contrivance used for joining two shafts or parts of a machine endwise, so that the one may give rotary motion to the other when forming an angle with it, or may move freely in all directions with respect to the other, as by means of a cross connecting the forked ends of the two shafts (Fig. 1). Since this joint can not act when the angle of the shafts is less than 140°, a double joint of the same kind is sometimes used for giving rotary motion at angles less than 140° (Fig. 2).
  • adjective (Bot.) a primary or general umbel; the first or largest set of rays in a compound umbel; -- opposed to partial umbel. A universal involucre is not unfrequently placed at the foot of a universal umbel.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Of or pertaining to the universe.
  • adjective Common to all members of a group or class.
  • adjective Common to all society; world-wide
  • adjective Cosmic; unlimited; vast; infinite
  • adjective Useful for many purposes, e.g., universal wrench.
  • noun philosophy A characteristic or property that particular things have in common.

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

  • noun (logic) a proposition that asserts something of all members of a class
  • adjective adapted to various purposes, sizes, forms, operations
  • noun coupling that connects two rotating shafts allowing freedom of movement in all directions
  • noun (linguistics) a grammatical rule (or other linguistic feature) that is found in all languages
  • adjective of worldwide scope or applicability
  • noun a behavioral convention or pattern characteristic of all members of a particular culture or of all human beings
  • adjective applicable to or common to all members of a group or set


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin universalis.


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word universal.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • See comments for love.

    March 26, 2012