Definition of generalize in English:


(British generalise)


  • 1no object Make a general or broad statement by inferring from specific cases.

    ‘it is not easy to generalize about the poor’
    • ‘What is unacceptable, to say the least, is to generalize about the uses and customs of nearly half a billion people who cover close to one sixth of the Earth's surface.’
    • ‘Anthologies like this one invite us to generalize about differences between U.S. and U.K. poetics.’
    • ‘Because states have distinctive histories and are located in particular places there are definite limits in our ability to generalize about state systems.’
    • ‘Eating habits in Germany vary by social class and milieu, but it is possible to generalize about the behavior of the inclusive middle class, which has emerged in the prosperous postwar era.’
    • ‘If you're going to generalize about doctors, maybe you should be a little bit more wary about your sources.’
    • ‘It's actually difficult to generalize about Canada.’
    • ‘However, it is not easy to generalize about the ethnographic research process in such a way as to provide definitive recommendations about research practice.’
    • ‘As much as I hate to generalize about such a large group of people, I'm going to do it anyway.’
    • ‘While this study helps us generalize about the different techniques, data are highly specific to individual surgeons and surgical units.’
    • ‘It is foolhardy to generalize about the political attitudes of 100 million peasants, except to say that they were far from being a cowed mass.’
    • ‘Even to generalize about the 337 estates valued at more than 5,000 [pounds sterling] runs the risk of distortion because there are so many exceptions to any rule.’
    • ‘Such an extreme contrast should tell anyone how stupid it is to generalize about racism.’
    • ‘While it is possible to generalize about the social impact and consequences of flooding by means of the figures given above, flooding is a complex subject because of the various causes of the flood hazard and human responses to it.’
    • ‘In their desire to generalize about men, or even about one class of men, and in their focus on social consequences, they flatten out the complementary perspective of interiority and individuality.’
    • ‘The varied topography of Nelson makes it difficult to generalize about weather and soils, although records show that the region is slightly cooler and wetter than the Marlborough average.’
    • ‘Probably the best part of this inconclusive book is the epilogue, which reminds us to be careful of how we generalize about natives as ecologists or balanced dwellers in the land.’
    • ‘So, that being the case, I don't want to generalize about Americans.’
    • ‘But it's hard to generalize about almost 300 million people.’
    • ‘On the other hand, I'll admit that the few I've seen have actually been quite good, and hard to generalize about.’
    • ‘It is difficult, however, to generalize about species native to Australia since much of the literature is based on northern hemisphere or crop species.’
    imprecise, inexact, rough, approximate, inexplicit, non-specific, loose, ill-defined, generalized, ambiguous, equivocal, hazy, woolly
    View synonyms
  • 2with object Make (something) more widespread or widely applicable.

    ‘attempts to generalize an elite education’
    • ‘The very institutions that helped generalise the boom now spread the panic.’
    • ‘Rather than report on the details of their results, we present here a more generalized discussion.’
    • ‘Whether the results will generalize remains to be seen.’
    • ‘They also limit themselves to a very small sample of games from which they mistakenly try to generalize universal principles and properties.’
    • ‘The main rules and propositions were generalized and formalized in field manuals and regulations.’
    • ‘In practice, attempts to generalize research results are unlikely to rest on anything that happens in a single study, including the type of sampling carried out or the type of statistical test used.’
    • ‘The homogenous nature of the subjects limits the ability to generalize results to other populations.’
    • ‘These models are somewhat restricted in their direct physical application, though some generalized conclusions could be drawn from these results.’
    • ‘However, a sample of one-tenth of one per cent of the entire undergraduate student population is far too small to generalize these opinions to them.’
    • ‘Caution should be used in generalizing this study's results to other student populations.’
    • ‘Several factors suggest caution before widely generalizing our findings.’
    • ‘The researchers recognize the need to have a higher response rate to be able to generalize findings to the population.’
    • ‘One of the most important branches of mathematics is the study of objects known as manifolds, which result from generalizing these ideas to three or more dimensions.’
    • ‘No differences were found to exist and the results were generalized to the target population.’
    • ‘We have generalized this method and made it applicable to data from multiple unlinked loci.’
    • ‘For example, studies that generalise findings from limited population samples of incarcerated offenders are arguably missing datasets from the most intelligent criminal populations.’
    • ‘This means that our population will be all students in that university which will in turn mean that we will only be able to generalize our findings to students of that university.’
    • ‘Rather they owed their popularity and usefulness to the rather generalized reference that they made to the males and females of the human species.’
    • ‘Our current efforts are directed at improving these tools for E. coli, making them widely available, and generalizing them to other microorganisms.’
    • ‘Can the results from scientific research be generalized to witnesses in the real world?’
    give currency to, spread, propagate, give credence to, universalize
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1as adjective generalizedMedicine (of a disease) affecting much or all of the body.
      ‘generalized myalgia’
      • ‘However, in two cases of segmental disease, genetic transmission of the generalized disease has been reported.’
      • ‘There is a generalized infection with involvement of the liver, spleen, bone marrow, and lymph glands.’
      • ‘The lower abdomen is rarely exposed to the sun, so that disorders characterized by generalized hyperpigmentation may be quite evident there.’
      • ‘This can potentially lead to septicemia, a generalized infection affecting many systems of the body.’
      • ‘In addition, fever, neutropenia, generalized skin rash, abdominal distension, and tenderness were frequent symptoms on his admissions.’


Middle English (in the sense ‘reduce to a general statement’): from general + -ize.