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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In general students are interested in the same things that concern the general public.’
    • ‘There were some concerns but there was general goodwill towards the idea of getting rid of raw sewage going into the river.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Such cross-resistance appears to be a general feature of resistant rodent populations.’
    • ‘The evidence suggests that such interventions have limited utility in the general population.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Use of hard drugs may not be widespread in the general public, but the problems associated with drugs affect many people.’
    • ‘We can control them much more easily than controlling the polluting activities of our general masses.’
    • ‘All three phases of clinical testing are essential before a vaccine can be considered for licensing and general use.’
    • ‘Usually about five to ten percent of the general population are affected.’
    • ‘The stronger case, however, is for a general strengthening of the main road network away from the motorways and trunk roads.’
    • ‘There is none of the sense of suffocation that was once a feature of general anaesthesia.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Housing and related charges are an element of the general cost of living.’
    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’
      • ‘I'll admit general ignorance on the subject and I don't have a horse in this race.’
      • ‘There are advice-based features on finding jobs as well as more general features on work-related ethics, law and issues.’
      • ‘We provide a full range of general insurance products - both tariff and non-tariff.’
      • ‘So the best that I can do is offer an answer in vague, general terms.’
      • ‘English was the most popular subject, followed by general studies, maths, biology, history, and psychology.’
      • ‘Since this is a book on company law, however, we did not consider such general self-help techniques in detail.’
      • ‘A more general point is to consider the economic concept of comparative advantage.’
      • ‘That is why this case is an appropriate vehicle to consider the general issue.’
      • ‘But I shall consider a more general version of this view, which can be applied to everyone.’
      • ‘Remember, logo design is an essential element to your general marketing strategy.’
      • ‘Sixty of the questions related to pharmacy subjects, and the rest were queries on general knowledge.’
      • ‘A Bolton tax specialist is putting his general knowledge to the test by appearing on a TV quiz show.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This development has to be considered in the more general context of photography and aesthetics.’
      • ‘Even daily activities such as general housework or playing with your kids can be a good opportunity to boost your fitness levels.’
      • ‘These deal with how EU policies should be implemented, and with a range of general provisions for treaties.’
      • ‘While one section is devoted to literary terms, another attempts to provide general knowledge on a range of topics.’
      • ‘But she failed to pass the national examination because of her poor knowledge of general subjects.’
      • ‘I also consider the two more general issues that arise from the case.’
      miscellaneous, mixed, assorted, variegated, diversified, composite, heterogeneous
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 (of a rule, principle, etc.) true for all or most cases.
      • ‘In contrast, general rules treat two individuals in like circumstances in the same fashion.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘First, they say that laws are made for the general rule, not the exceptions.’
      • ‘As a general rule of thumb with this government, whenever a contract is let, someone close to the government benefits in some way.’
      • ‘This is because the general rule in criminal law is that a duty to help others is not owed by members of the public.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This has made it difficult to formulate general rules regarding evolutionary trajectories.’
      • ‘However, it is not possible to postulate a general rule that any contract beneficial to a minor is binding upon him.’
      • ‘The general rule is that we leave things exactly as we found them.’
      • ‘As a general rule they do not sting and are harmless.’
      • ‘I would think that the general rule, if evenly enforced, would be sufficient.’
      • ‘The construction of all axes followed the same general principle.’
      • ‘The general rule is that the more difficult the question, the longer the silence before he answers.’
      • ‘As a general rule, that is probably true, but it is really only a rule of thumb.’
      • ‘As a general rule, the Law Society of Upper Canada should deal with allegations of misconduct.’
      • ‘How long yours will stay good depends on its formula, but the general rule is about two years.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The following guidelines will provide a general rule for sprinkler selection.’
      • ‘Choir was the second good thing, because I loved singing and music as a general principal.’
    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 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.’
      • ‘The general customer accepts an accomplished RW by forming a commission for the purpose.’
      • ‘This is considered to be a general effect and to have variable consequences.’
      • ‘Yet such isolated cases only confirm the general argument in favour of de-accessing.’
      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’
    • ‘Most patients thought about research in broad, general terms.’
    • ‘By reference to those considerations it is possible to identify general features of a discriminatory law.’
    • ‘Several general features were characteristic of all the meetings.’
    • ‘Afterwards, however, he walked with me towards the main foyer which was in the general direction of his next class.’
    • ‘Rather than answer it, we should look at some of the general features of this revolution.’
    • ‘It was a statuesque form of him, but the wooden carving had his general features and form.’
    • ‘It will contain all the same general features as last year.’
    • ‘The desire for esteem seems to me to make a strong claim to be one element in that more general account.’
    • ‘We need to consider our general reactions and thinking about politics to be able to make better sense of specific news stories.’
    • ‘For a general introduction to this large monument see the main entry under Region 1.’
    • ‘You like to spend time philosophizing and thinking in broad general terms.’
    • ‘While the criticisms differed in detail depending on the type of proceedings which were being considered, the general thrust was the same.’
    • ‘That memorandum is in somewhat general and imprecise terms.’
    • ‘The most striking general feature to be found is the extent to which what we would now call science is a subculture within philosophy.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A general feature of the book is that as each section progresses it becomes more advanced in subject matter.’
    • ‘If the relationship is going to be long term, we need to be going in the same general direction as the other person.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I don't believe that the road map can spell out all the details, but it can indicate a general direction.’
    broad, imprecise, inexact, rough, sweeping, overall, loose, basic, approximate, non-specific, unspecific, vague, hazy, fuzzy, woolly, ill-defined, indefinite, unfocused
    View synonyms
  • 3often in titles Chief or principal.

    ‘the Director General of the BBC’
    ‘the general manager’
    • ‘Major league general managers have more than a month left to overhaul their rosters.’
    • ‘I am working in a school as a general manager and teaching English.’
    • ‘He said he later received a telephone call from the general manager, informing him that there was a problem at the factory.’
    • ‘He was general manager of two top hotels on the Veradero beach.’
    • ‘The major work of the general managers is pretty much done by this point in the spring.’
    • ‘I think you are the only museum in Australia that actually has a general manager running things day-to-day for you.’
    • ‘By comparison, half of the teams in the majors have changed general managers in the past three years.’
    • ‘That is a matter for the general manager and the chief executive of the Department of Labour.’
    • ‘Numbers like these are ominous to general managers around the league for various reasons.’
    • ‘Both will be titled vice president and general manager.’
    • ‘He was general manager of business development and marketing of JFK, La Guardia and Newark airports.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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 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.’
    • ‘He started work there when he was 14, becoming general manager at 21.’
    • ‘As general manager I have responsibility for the restaurant.’
    • ‘He is among the least qualified general managers in major league history.’
    • ‘Major league general managers circulate after holding their organizational meetings.’
    • ‘The writer is a general manager of engineering.’
    • ‘Proof that they had sought and received permission from the general chief of staff was brushed aside.’

noun

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

    • ‘Senior generals and staff officers know this, which is why they are reluctant to rush into attacking at such a time.’
    • ‘Several military officers attentively listened to the orders of a general.’
    • ‘He orders his former generals to become gardeners.’
    • ‘We received initial guidance from our higher headquarters and our commanding general.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Originally a vast hunting lodge, Louis built up Versailles in order to house his generals, ministers and other court suck-ups.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He ordered his generals to plan an invasion of Czechoslovakia.’
    • ‘But under his warring sons several major field armies emerged, under generals of even higher rank.’
    • ‘None of his generals dared order reinforcements without his permission, and no-one dared wake him.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Alarmed generals order both sides to resume hostilities.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Many generals and other officers were penalized.’
    • ‘Just inside the museum's front gate, a tree-shaded path lined with stone statues of civil servants and generals leads to the mausoleum.’
    • ‘Alexander the Great and his generals introduced the practice to the Phoenicians, Egyptians and Carthaginians.’
    • ‘All of the guards drew their swords and looked to the general for orders.’
    • ‘The most stable connection is that between the military commander and generals and officers directly subordinated to him.’
    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.
      • ‘No, the generals will not issue an order because of the misgivings of one colonel.’
      • ‘Further, numerous key Army Air Force generals visited both Texas and New Mexico in this time period suggesting something very important had occurred.’
      • ‘Three Air Force generals are part of NASA's investigation board reviewing events leading to the disaster.’
      • ‘I hope the generals and colonels, the ones who really make the decisions on such things, agree.’
      • ‘In careerist terms, the war gave the army's generals the victories that had eluded their predecessors 30 years previously.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He is just the latest in a long line of generals to try their hand at running for president.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It is essential to grow leaders from private or lieutenant to command sergeant major or general.’
      • ‘It underwrites the Army's training of everyone from privates to generals.’
      • ‘There are paintings and photographs of generals, lieutenants, sergeants, privates, secretaries and commanders-in-chief.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The guys in the army who make the decisions are senior Army leaders, mostly generals who gained their experience in the combat arms.’
      • ‘I'm privileged to spend a good bit of time with our military officers, from generals to new lieutenants.’
      • ‘It was the first time in history that a black officer had ever been raised to full general in the U.S. Army.’
      • ‘The senior officers - generals, brigadiers, colonels - were all at a loss about what to do.’
      • ‘A similar stand was taken by 24 retired four-star Marine and Army generals in an open letter to the President in July 1997.’
      • ‘Thousands of generals and officers of the Armed Forces became the journal's contributors during the years of its existence.’
    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.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Therefore, as a general rule, greater transparency is usually better.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I permitted senior students to have some pocket money, but as a general rule, I prohibited all other students from having any money.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘No, of course I do not take that as a general rule.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But as a general rule, we should strive for what is in a child's best interest.’
      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.’
      • ‘I think that in general two weeks is ample time to rent and view something.’
      • ‘Women do not in general share sport as a common language or as a means of bonding in the same way.’
      • ‘The bottom line is that, in general, we don't trust people other than ourselves.’
      • ‘Oak in general is one of the strongest of the common hardwoods of the temperate northern hemisphere.’
      • ‘State claims do not in general support any particular standard of responsibility.’
      • ‘The crime rate is low, unemployment is low and, in general, people feel relatively safe.’
      • ‘It has become a commonplace that numbers are in general poorly dealt with by the mass media.’
      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’
      • ‘What is it that draws me to paganism in general and druidry in particular?’
      • ‘Babies are a booming business for the publishing world in particular and the media in general.’
      • ‘However, the whole purpose of the programme is to raise property values in general in those areas.’
      • ‘He also criticised the standard of the council's road inspection regime in general.’
      • ‘I doubt if society in general would value the inevitable fall in living standards.’
      • ‘I fell out of love with the whole studio environment and the music business in general.’
      • ‘It was used to bash intellectuals in general and it was used to bash the political left in general.’
      • ‘There are perhaps three kinds of books one can write on the subject of history in general.’
      • ‘The application of computers in general to business in general proceeds rapidly.’
      • ‘After the film we went and sat on the common for ages and just talked about life in general.’
      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/