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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘So, that being the case, I don't want to generalize about Americans.’
    • ‘However, it is not easy to generalize about the ethnographic research process in such a way as to provide definitive recommendations about research practice.’
    • ‘Such an extreme contrast should tell anyone how stupid it is to generalize about racism.’
    • ‘But it's hard to generalize about almost 300 million people.’
    • ‘While this study helps us generalize about the different techniques, data are highly specific to individual surgeons and surgical units.’
    • ‘If you're going to generalize about doctors, maybe you should be a little bit more wary about your sources.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘As much as I hate to generalize about such a large group of people, I'm going to do it anyway.’
    • ‘It's actually difficult to generalize about Canada.’
    imprecise, inexact, rough, approximate, inexplicit, non-specific, loose, ill-defined, generalized, ambiguous, equivocal, hazy, woolly
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  • 2with object Make (something) more widespread or widely applicable.

    ‘attempts to generalize an elite education’
    • ‘The homogenous nature of the subjects limits the ability to generalize results to other populations.’
    • ‘They also limit themselves to a very small sample of games from which they mistakenly try to generalize universal principles and properties.’
    • ‘Can the results from scientific research be generalized to witnesses in the real world?’
    • ‘Caution should be used in generalizing this study's results to other student populations.’
    • ‘We have generalized this method and made it applicable to data from multiple unlinked loci.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Several factors suggest caution before widely generalizing our findings.’
    • ‘The very institutions that helped generalise the boom now spread the panic.’
    • ‘The researchers recognize the need to have a higher response rate to be able to generalize findings to the population.’
    • ‘Our current efforts are directed at improving these tools for E. coli, making them widely available, and generalizing them to other microorganisms.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘These models are somewhat restricted in their direct physical application, though some generalized conclusions could be drawn from these results.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘For example, studies that generalise findings from limited population samples of incarcerated offenders are arguably missing datasets from the most intelligent criminal populations.’
    • ‘No differences were found to exist and the results were generalized to the target population.’
    • ‘The main rules and propositions were generalized and formalized in field manuals and regulations.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    give currency to, spread, propagate, give credence to, universalize
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    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.’
      • ‘This can potentially lead to septicemia, a generalized infection affecting many systems of the body.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.