Definition of general in English:

general

adjective

  • 1Affecting or concerning all or most people or things; widespread:

    ‘books of general interest’
    ‘the general opinion was that prices would fall’
    • ‘In general students are interested in the same things that concern the general public.’
    • ‘Such cross-resistance appears to be a general feature of resistant rodent populations.’
    • ‘Use of hard drugs may not be widespread in the general public, but the problems associated with drugs affect many people.’
    • ‘A chance to see many films weeks, if not months, before their general release, it features works from most nations and every genre.’
    • ‘Whether this is a general feature of patch reef communities in these two regions is not known.’
    • ‘Re-reading what I wrote it seems to be that it all boils down to a general lack of concern for the comfort of second-class passengers.’
    • ‘We can control them much more easily than controlling the polluting activities of our general masses.’
    • ‘This belief was an important element in the general optimism that greeted the new technology.’
    • ‘Mobile phone masts in public places are of general concern.’
    • ‘Housing and related charges are an element of the general cost of living.’
    • ‘The stronger case, however, is for a general strengthening of the main road network away from the motorways and trunk roads.’
    • ‘Usually about five to ten percent of the general population are affected.’
    • ‘The almost general feature is the lack of pigment in these organs, which seem to be transparent.’
    • ‘The positive results achieved by the scheme are many and openly obvious and there is general concern at the loss of so many workers.’
    • ‘There is none of the sense of suffocation that was once a feature of general anaesthesia.’
    • ‘There were some concerns but there was general goodwill towards the idea of getting rid of raw sewage going into the river.’
    • ‘All three phases of clinical testing are essential before a vaccine can be considered for licensing and general use.’
    • ‘We believe there is widespread support amongst the general public for such a move.’
    • ‘He said it more reflected a general decline in applications throughout other European countries.’
    • ‘The evidence suggests that such interventions have limited utility in the general population.’
    widespread, common, extensive, universal, wide, Popular, public, mainstream, prevalent, prevailing, rife, established, well established, conventional, traditional, traditionalist, orthodox, accepted
    comprehensive, overall, across the board, blanket, umbrella, mass, total, complete, wholesale, sweeping, panoramic, broad, broad-ranging, extended, inclusive, all-inclusive, all-round, generic, outright, encyclopedic, indiscriminate, catholic
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Not specialized or limited in range of subject, application, activity, etc.:
      ‘brush up on your general knowledge’
      • ‘But she failed to pass the national examination because of her poor knowledge of general subjects.’
      • ‘The directives combined general strategic considerations with detailed operational instructions.’
      • ‘The rarity of the disease has limited general knowledge of it and the symptoms it causes.’
      • ‘While one section is devoted to literary terms, another attempts to provide general knowledge on a range of topics.’
      • ‘Remember, logo design is an essential element to your general marketing strategy.’
      • ‘There are advice-based features on finding jobs as well as more general features on work-related ethics, law and issues.’
      • ‘But I shall consider a more general version of this view, which can be applied to everyone.’
      • ‘I'll admit general ignorance on the subject and I don't have a horse in this race.’
      • ‘So the best that I can do is offer an answer in vague, general terms.’
      • ‘This development has to be considered in the more general context of photography and aesthetics.’
      • ‘That is why this case is an appropriate vehicle to consider the general issue.’
      • ‘I also consider the two more general issues that arise from the case.’
      • ‘We provide a full range of general insurance products - both tariff and non-tariff.’
      • ‘Since this is a book on company law, however, we did not consider such general self-help techniques in detail.’
      • ‘A Bolton tax specialist is putting his general knowledge to the test by appearing on a TV quiz show.’
      • ‘A more general point is to consider the economic concept of comparative advantage.’
      • ‘These deal with how EU policies should be implemented, and with a range of general provisions for treaties.’
      • ‘English was the most popular subject, followed by general studies, maths, biology, history, and psychology.’
      • ‘Sixty of the questions related to pharmacy subjects, and the rest were queries on general knowledge.’
      • ‘Even daily activities such as general housework or playing with your kids can be a good opportunity to boost your fitness levels.’
      miscellaneous, mixed, assorted, variegated, diversified, composite, heterogeneous
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 (of a rule, principle, etc.) true for all or most cases.
      • ‘As a general rule, that is probably true, but it is really only a rule of thumb.’
      • ‘I would think that the general rule, if evenly enforced, would be sufficient.’
      • ‘First, they say that laws are made for the general rule, not the exceptions.’
      • ‘As a general rule in English law, there is no need to give notice if a sum of money is payable on a particular day.’
      • ‘The construction of all axes followed the same general principle.’
      • ‘However, it is not possible to postulate a general rule that any contract beneficial to a minor is binding upon him.’
      • ‘As a general rule they do not sting and are harmless.’
      • ‘The general rule is that the more difficult the question, the longer the silence before he answers.’
      • ‘The following guidelines will provide a general rule for sprinkler selection.’
      • ‘As a general principle, the true owner of the cheque is the last person to whom the instrument has been validly transferred.’
      • ‘They, in effect, said that comment on the failure to explain or contradict is the general rule but there were two exceptions to it.’
      • ‘As a general rule, the Law Society of Upper Canada should deal with allegations of misconduct.’
      • ‘As a general rule, a team is in a far healthier position if every player on the team has to fight to keep his position.’
      • ‘The general rule is that we leave things exactly as we found them.’
      • ‘In contrast, general rules treat two individuals in like circumstances in the same fashion.’
      • ‘As a general rule of thumb with this government, whenever a contract is let, someone close to the government benefits in some way.’
      • ‘Choir was the second good thing, because I loved singing and music as a general principal.’
      • ‘This has made it difficult to formulate general rules regarding evolutionary trajectories.’
      • ‘How long yours will stay good depends on its formula, but the general rule is about two years.’
      • ‘This is because the general rule in criminal law is that a duty to help others is not owed by members of the public.’
    3. 1.3 Normal or usual:
      ‘it is not general practice to confirm or deny such reports’
      • ‘Language change may be a general feature of wartime, yet the way in which words are altered differs from war to war.’
      • ‘The general customer accepts an accomplished RW by forming a commission for the purpose.’
      • ‘The general routine now is that we will have a drink when we arrive and then start to prepare the trays for dinner, setting them with cutlery.’
      • ‘Yet such isolated cases only confirm the general argument in favour of de-accessing.’
      • ‘This is considered to be a general effect and to have variable consequences.’
      usual, customary, habitual, traditional, normal, conventional, typical, standard, regular
      View synonyms
  • 2Considering or including only the main features or elements of something; not exact or detailed:

    ‘the arrangements were outlined in very general terms’
    ‘a general introduction to the subject’
    • ‘A general feature of the book is that as each section progresses it becomes more advanced in subject matter.’
    • ‘The most striking general feature to be found is the extent to which what we would now call science is a subculture within philosophy.’
    • ‘That memorandum is in somewhat general and imprecise terms.’
    • ‘Afterwards, however, he walked with me towards the main foyer which was in the general direction of his next class.’
    • ‘It will contain all the same general features as last year.’
    • ‘Rather than answer it, we should look at some of the general features of this revolution.’
    • ‘For a general introduction to this large monument see the main entry under Region 1.’
    • ‘It was a statuesque form of him, but the wooden carving had his general features and form.’
    • ‘While the criticisms differed in detail depending on the type of proceedings which were being considered, the general thrust was the same.’
    • ‘Several general features were characteristic of all the meetings.’
    • ‘However, we shall consider a few general questions, and then we shall set up the scientific goal which vivisection has in view.’
    • ‘Chapter 2 deals with Federal regulation of medications in broad and general terms.’
    • ‘Like sonata form it is not a rigid formula, and therefore the scheme illustrated can be taken as only a rough guide to its general features.’
    • ‘The desire for esteem seems to me to make a strong claim to be one element in that more general account.’
    • ‘If the relationship is going to be long term, we need to be going in the same general direction as the other person.’
    • ‘By reference to those considerations it is possible to identify general features of a discriminatory law.’
    • ‘I don't believe that the road map can spell out all the details, but it can indicate a general direction.’
    • ‘You like to spend time philosophizing and thinking in broad general terms.’
    • ‘Most patients thought about research in broad, general terms.’
    • ‘We need to consider our general reactions and thinking about politics to be able to make better sense of specific news stories.’
    broad, imprecise, inexact, rough, sweeping, overall, loose, basic, approximate, non-specific, unspecific, vague, hazy, fuzzy, woolly, ill-defined, indefinite, unfocused
    View synonyms
  • 3[often in titles] Chief or principal:

    ‘the Director General of the BBC’
    ‘the general manager’
    • ‘By comparison, half of the teams in the majors have changed general managers in the past three years.’
    • ‘Numbers like these are ominous to general managers around the league for various reasons.’
    • ‘He said he later received a telephone call from the general manager, informing him that there was a problem at the factory.’
    • ‘I think you are the only museum in Australia that actually has a general manager running things day-to-day for you.’
    • ‘I had a written agreement with the general manager that the £90 dinner bill would be waived for one night when I went out.’
    • ‘The major work of the general managers is pretty much done by this point in the spring.’
    • ‘He was general manager of two top hotels on the Veradero beach.’
    • ‘The writer is a general manager of engineering.’
    • ‘Both will be titled vice president and general manager.’
    • ‘A new general manager will oversee this process and concentrate on building up the trade orders which a previous lack of capacity meant they had to let go.’
    • ‘The club needs either a Chief Exec or general manager with a day-to-day overview of the running of the club to avoid situations like this.’
    • ‘Major league general managers have more than a month left to overhaul their rosters.’
    • ‘He is among the least qualified general managers in major league history.’
    • ‘Proof that they had sought and received permission from the general chief of staff was brushed aside.’
    • ‘Major league general managers circulate after holding their organizational meetings.’
    • ‘That is a matter for the general manager and the chief executive of the Department of Labour.’
    • ‘He started work there when he was 14, becoming general manager at 21.’
    • ‘I am working in a school as a general manager and teaching English.’
    • ‘As general manager I have responsibility for the restaurant.’
    • ‘He was general manager of business development and marketing of JFK, La Guardia and Newark airports.’

noun

  • 1A commander of an army, or an army officer of very high rank.

    • ‘The most stable connection is that between the military commander and generals and officers directly subordinated to him.’
    • ‘We received initial guidance from our higher headquarters and our commanding general.’
    • ‘He ordered his generals to plan an invasion of Czechoslovakia.’
    • ‘Originally a vast hunting lodge, Louis built up Versailles in order to house his generals, ministers and other court suck-ups.’
    • ‘In the early hours of the morning young officers shut their generals in their quarters and assumed command of four infantry battalions at the camp.’
    • ‘Alexander the Great and his generals introduced the practice to the Phoenicians, Egyptians and Carthaginians.’
    • ‘There is an old and well-worn military adage that while the generals give the orders, it falls to the young soldiers to do the killing and the dying.’
    • ‘He ordered his generals to prepare an expedition into Arabia.’
    • ‘All of the guards drew their swords and looked to the general for orders.’
    • ‘None of his generals dared order reinforcements without his permission, and no-one dared wake him.’
    • ‘In accordance with the time-honoured custom of generals, he was carried in on a four-horse chariot and clothed in purple, a far more brilliant hue than any other.’
    • ‘Several military officers attentively listened to the orders of a general.’
    • ‘He orders his former generals to become gardeners.’
    • ‘There is no military justification for these measures, no matter how much sycophantic generals parrot the party line and try to blind public opinion with technicalities.’
    • ‘Soldiers may pull the trigger, but the generals writing out the orders, and the journalists failing to write the truth, are vital links in the chain of cause and effect.’
    • ‘Senior generals and staff officers know this, which is why they are reluctant to rush into attacking at such a time.’
    • ‘But under his warring sons several major field armies emerged, under generals of even higher rank.’
    • ‘Many generals and other officers were penalized.’
    • ‘Alarmed generals order both sides to resume hostilities.’
    • ‘Just inside the museum's front gate, a tree-shaded path lined with stone statues of civil servants and generals leads to the mausoleum.’
    1. 1.1 A high rank of officer in the army and in the US air force, above lieutenant general and below field marshal, general of the army, or general of the air force.
      • ‘In careerist terms, the war gave the army's generals the victories that had eluded their predecessors 30 years previously.’
      • ‘Further, numerous key Army Air Force generals visited both Texas and New Mexico in this time period suggesting something very important had occurred.’
      • ‘It underwrites the Army's training of everyone from privates to generals.’
      • ‘The senior officers - generals, brigadiers, colonels - were all at a loss about what to do.’
      • ‘He said nothing, leading by example, pressing division generals for tougher combat missions during the day and giving orders to his captains with a smile at night.’
      • ‘He is just the latest in a long line of generals to try their hand at running for president.’
      • ‘Thousands of generals and officers of the Armed Forces became the journal's contributors during the years of its existence.’
      • ‘Three Air Force generals are part of NASA's investigation board reviewing events leading to the disaster.’
      • ‘There are paintings and photographs of generals, lieutenants, sergeants, privates, secretaries and commanders-in-chief.’
      • ‘It was the first time in history that a black officer had ever been raised to full general in the U.S. Army.’
      • ‘I'm privileged to spend a good bit of time with our military officers, from generals to new lieutenants.’
      • ‘It is essential to grow leaders from private or lieutenant to command sergeant major or general.’
      • ‘Army generals were in the lead in these efforts and were moving the Army into a new era of worldwide service and commitment heretofore not seen.’
      • ‘Though the experience might be scary at first for both action officers and generals, it would cut the work of an average Army headquarters by 50 percent.’
      • ‘A similar stand was taken by 24 retired four-star Marine and Army generals in an open letter to the President in July 1997.’
      • ‘Several years ago I stood in Normandy overlooking the St. Lo-Periers Road with the commanding generals of the U.S. Army and Air Force in Europe.’
      • ‘I hope the generals and colonels, the ones who really make the decisions on such things, agree.’
      • ‘The guys in the army who make the decisions are senior Army leaders, mostly generals who gained their experience in the combat arms.’
      • ‘These ad hoc units were locally raised and led, but funded by the federal government and under the overall command of U.S. Army generals.’
      • ‘No, the generals will not issue an order because of the misgivings of one colonel.’
    2. 1.2informal
    3. 1.3 The head of a religious order organized on quasi-military lines, e.g. the Jesuits, the Dominicans, or the Salvation Army.
      • ‘Realizing that he might need some help, the Church sent the generals of the Dominican and Franciscan orders as his advisors.’
  • 2the generalarchaic The general public.

Phrases

  • as a general rule

    • In most cases.

      • ‘This doesn't happen in every single case, and not necessarily as speedily and thoroughly as some would want, but it holds well enough as a general rule.’
      • ‘A student may be moved quickly through a literature level to the next hardest level, but it is important, as a general rule, that no levels be skipped.’
      • ‘Very few hotels still have a dress code: as a general rule, smarter places will ask you to wear a skirt or a jacket and long trousers at dinner.’
      • ‘Therefore, as a general rule, greater transparency is usually better.’
      • ‘No, of course I do not take that as a general rule.’
      • ‘During the three years I spent stationed in their country I found them to be, as a general rule, a humble, friendly, and polite group.’
      • ‘But as a general rule, we should strive for what is in a child's best interest.’
      • ‘But as a general rule, such claims are not permitted in Australia.’
      • ‘Pines are woody perennial species with approximately 10 years per generation as a general rule.’
      • ‘I permitted senior students to have some pocket money, but as a general rule, I prohibited all other students from having any money.’
      normally, in general, as a rule, as a general rule, in the general run of things, by and large, more often than not, almost always, in the main, mainly, mostly, for the most part, in most cases, most of the time, predominantly, on the whole
      View synonyms
  • in general

    • 1Usually; mainly:

      ‘in general, Alexander was a peaceful, loving man’
      • ‘It includes the regulation of the manner in which the court process may in general be utilised.’
      • ‘The crime rate is low, unemployment is low and, in general, people feel relatively safe.’
      • ‘State claims do not in general support any particular standard of responsibility.’
      • ‘Women do not in general share sport as a common language or as a means of bonding in the same way.’
      • ‘Oak in general is one of the strongest of the common hardwoods of the temperate northern hemisphere.’
      • ‘It has become a commonplace that numbers are in general poorly dealt with by the mass media.’
      • ‘I think that in general two weeks is ample time to rent and view something.’
      • ‘The bottom line is that, in general, we don't trust people other than ourselves.’
      generally, normally, as a rule, as a general rule, in the general run of things, by and large, more often than not, almost always, in the main, mainly, mostly, for the most part, in most cases, most of the time, predominantly, on the whole
      View synonyms
    • 2As a whole:

      ‘our understanding of culture in general and of literature in particular’
      • ‘It was used to bash intellectuals in general and it was used to bash the political left in general.’
      • ‘I fell out of love with the whole studio environment and the music business in general.’
      • ‘There are perhaps three kinds of books one can write on the subject of history in general.’
      • ‘He also criticised the standard of the council's road inspection regime in general.’
      • ‘What is it that draws me to paganism in general and druidry in particular?’
      • ‘After the film we went and sat on the common for ages and just talked about life in general.’
      • ‘Babies are a booming business for the publishing world in particular and the media in general.’
      • ‘I doubt if society in general would value the inevitable fall in living standards.’
      • ‘The application of computers in general to business in general proceeds rapidly.’
      • ‘However, the whole purpose of the programme is to raise property values in general in those areas.’
      as a whole, as a body, generally, at large, in the main
      View synonyms

Origin

Middle English: via Old French from Latin generalis, from genus, gener- class, race, kind. The noun primarily denotes a person having overall authority: the sense ‘army commander’ is an abbreviation of captain general, from French capitaine général commander-in-chief.

Pronunciation:

general

/ˈdʒɛn(ə)r(ə)l/