Definition of general in English:

general

adjective

  • 1Affecting or concerning all or most people, places, or things; widespread.

    ‘books of general interest’
    • ‘Housing and related charges are an element of the general cost of living.’
    • ‘In general students are interested in the same things that concern the general public.’
    • ‘This belief was an important element in the general optimism that greeted the new technology.’
    • ‘Usually about five to ten percent of the general population are affected.’
    • ‘The positive results achieved by the scheme are many and openly obvious and there is general concern at the loss of so many workers.’
    • ‘The almost general feature is the lack of pigment in these organs, which seem to be transparent.’
    • ‘Mobile phone masts in public places are of general concern.’
    • ‘He said it more reflected a general decline in applications throughout other European countries.’
    • ‘There were some concerns but there was general goodwill towards the idea of getting rid of raw sewage going into the river.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The stronger case, however, is for a general strengthening of the main road network away from the motorways and trunk roads.’
    • ‘We believe there is widespread support amongst the general public for such a move.’
    • ‘All three phases of clinical testing are essential before a vaccine can be considered for licensing and general use.’
    • ‘The evidence suggests that such interventions have limited utility in the general population.’
    • ‘Such cross-resistance appears to be a general feature of resistant rodent populations.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘There is none of the sense of suffocation that was once a feature of general anaesthesia.’
    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’
      • ‘So the best that I can do is offer an answer in vague, general terms.’
      • ‘But she failed to pass the national examination because of her poor knowledge of general subjects.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘A more general point is to consider the economic concept of comparative advantage.’
      • ‘We provide a full range of general insurance products - both tariff and non-tariff.’
      • ‘A Bolton tax specialist is putting his general knowledge to the test by appearing on a TV quiz show.’
      • ‘Remember, logo design is an essential element to your general marketing strategy.’
      • ‘That is why this case is an appropriate vehicle to consider the general issue.’
      • ‘Even daily activities such as general housework or playing with your kids can be a good opportunity to boost your fitness levels.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘English was the most popular subject, followed by general studies, maths, biology, history, and psychology.’
      • ‘I also consider the two more general issues that arise from the case.’
      • ‘But I shall consider a more general version of this view, which can be applied to everyone.’
      • ‘Sixty of the questions related to pharmacy subjects, and the rest were queries on general knowledge.’
      • ‘This development has to be considered in the more general context of photography and aesthetics.’
      • ‘The directives combined general strategic considerations with detailed operational instructions.’
      • ‘Since this is a book on company law, however, we did not consider such general self-help techniques in detail.’
      • ‘The rarity of the disease has limited general knowledge of it and the symptoms it causes.’
      miscellaneous, mixed, assorted, variegated, diversified, composite, heterogeneous
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 (of a rule, principle, etc.) true for all or most cases.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In contrast, general rules treat two individuals in like circumstances in the same fashion.’
      • ‘As a general rule, that is probably true, but it is really only a rule of thumb.’
      • ‘However, it is not possible to postulate a general rule that any contract beneficial to a minor is binding upon him.’
      • ‘First, they say that laws are made for the general rule, not the exceptions.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘How long yours will stay good depends on its formula, but the general rule is about two years.’
      • ‘As a general rule, the Law Society of Upper Canada should deal with allegations of misconduct.’
      • ‘The general rule is that we leave things exactly as we found them.’
      • ‘I would think that the general rule, if evenly enforced, would be sufficient.’
      • ‘The following guidelines will provide a general rule for sprinkler selection.’
      • ‘As a general rule they do not sting and are harmless.’
      • ‘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 general rule is that the more difficult the question, the longer the silence before he answers.’
      • ‘As a general rule of thumb with this government, whenever a contract is let, someone close to the government benefits in some way.’
      • ‘This has made it difficult to formulate general rules regarding evolutionary trajectories.’
      • ‘The construction of all axes followed the same general principle.’
      • ‘Choir was the second good thing, because I loved singing and music as a general principal.’
      • ‘As a general principle, the true owner of the cheque is the last person to whom the instrument has been validly transferred.’
    3. 1.3 Normal or usual.
      ‘it is not general practice to confirm or deny such reports’
      • ‘Yet such isolated cases only confirm the general argument in favour of de-accessing.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Language change may be a general feature of wartime, yet the way in which words are altered differs from war to war.’
      usual, customary, habitual, traditional, normal, conventional, typical, standard, regular
      View synonyms
  • 2Considering or including the main features or elements of something, and disregarding exceptions; overall.

    ‘a general introduction to the subject’
    ‘they fired in the general direction of the enemy’
    • ‘Rather than answer it, we should look at some of the general features of this revolution.’
    • ‘A general feature of the book is that as each section progresses it becomes more advanced in subject matter.’
    • ‘By reference to those considerations it is possible to identify general features of a discriminatory law.’
    • ‘We need to consider our general reactions and thinking about politics to be able to make better sense of specific news stories.’
    • ‘It will contain all the same general features as last year.’
    • ‘While the criticisms differed in detail depending on the type of proceedings which were being considered, the general thrust was the same.’
    • ‘The desire for esteem seems to me to make a strong claim to be one element in that more general account.’
    • ‘I don't believe that the road map can spell out all the details, but it can indicate a general direction.’
    • ‘However, we shall consider a few general questions, and then we shall set up the scientific goal which vivisection has in view.’
    • ‘It was a statuesque form of him, but the wooden carving had his general features and form.’
    • ‘Several general features were characteristic of all the meetings.’
    • ‘For a general introduction to this large monument see the main entry under Region 1.’
    • ‘Most patients thought about research in broad, general terms.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Chapter 2 deals with Federal regulation of medications in broad and general 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.’
    • ‘Afterwards, however, he walked with me towards the main foyer which was in the general direction of his next class.’
    • ‘You like to spend time philosophizing and thinking in broad general terms.’
    • ‘That memorandum is in somewhat general and imprecise terms.’
    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.

    ‘a general manager’
    • ‘I had a written agreement with the general manager that the £90 dinner bill would be waived for one night when I went out.’
    • ‘Major league general managers have more than a month left to overhaul their rosters.’
    • ‘He was general manager of two top hotels on the Veradero beach.’
    • ‘Numbers like these are ominous to general managers around the league for various reasons.’
    • ‘The major work of the general managers is pretty much done by this point in the spring.’
    • ‘That is a matter for the general manager and the chief executive of the Department of Labour.’
    • ‘The writer is a general manager of engineering.’
    • ‘I think you are the only museum in Australia that actually has a general manager running things day-to-day for you.’
    • ‘Major league general managers circulate after holding their organizational meetings.’
    • ‘He is among the least qualified general managers in major league history.’
    • ‘As general manager I have responsibility for the restaurant.’
    • ‘I am working in a school as a general manager and teaching English.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He started work there when he was 14, becoming general manager at 21.’
    • ‘Proof that they had sought and received permission from the general chief of staff was brushed aside.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘By comparison, half of the teams in the majors have changed general managers in the past three years.’
    • ‘He said he later received a telephone call from the general manager, informing him that there was a problem at the factory.’

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.’
    • ‘He orders his former generals to become gardeners.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Alexander the Great and his generals introduced the practice to the Phoenicians, Egyptians and Carthaginians.’
    • ‘He ordered his generals to plan an invasion of Czechoslovakia.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Alarmed generals order both sides to resume hostilities.’
    • ‘Originally a vast hunting lodge, Louis built up Versailles in order to house his generals, ministers and other court suck-ups.’
    • ‘Just inside the museum's front gate, a tree-shaded path lined with stone statues of civil servants and generals leads to the mausoleum.’
    • ‘We received initial guidance from our higher headquarters and our commanding general.’
    • ‘Several military officers attentively listened to the orders of a general.’
    • ‘Many generals and other officers were penalized.’
    • ‘He ordered his generals to prepare an expedition into Arabia.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘All of the guards drew their swords and looked to the general for orders.’
    • ‘Senior generals and staff officers know this, which is why they are reluctant to rush into attacking at such a time.’
    • ‘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.’
    1. 1.1 An officer in the US Army, Air Force, or Marine Corps ranking above lieutenant general.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The guys in the army who make the decisions are senior Army leaders, mostly generals who gained their experience in the combat arms.’
      • ‘Thousands of generals and officers of the Armed Forces became the journal's contributors during the years of its existence.’
      • ‘It was the first time in history that a black officer had ever been raised to full general in the U.S. Army.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘There are paintings and photographs of generals, lieutenants, sergeants, privates, secretaries and commanders-in-chief.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Three Air Force generals are part of NASA's investigation board reviewing events leading to the disaster.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I'm privileged to spend a good bit of time with our military officers, from generals to new lieutenants.’
      • ‘I hope the generals and colonels, the ones who really make the decisions on such things, agree.’
      • ‘It underwrites the Army's training of everyone from privates to generals.’
      • ‘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 senior officers - generals, brigadiers, colonels - were all at a loss about what to do.’
      • ‘It is essential to grow leaders from private or lieutenant to command sergeant major or general.’
      • ‘A similar stand was taken by 24 retired four-star Marine and Army generals in an open letter to the President in July 1997.’
    2. 1.2 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I permitted senior students to have some pocket money, but as a general rule, I prohibited all other students from having any money.’
      • ‘Therefore, as a general rule, greater transparency is usually better.’
      • ‘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, such claims are not permitted in Australia.’
      • ‘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’
      • ‘I think that in general two weeks is ample time to rent and view something.’
      • ‘Oak in general is one of the strongest of the common hardwoods of the temperate northern hemisphere.’
      • ‘It includes the regulation of the manner in which the court process may in general be utilised.’
      • ‘The bottom line is that, in general, we don't trust people other than ourselves.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘I fell out of love with the whole studio environment and the music business in general.’
      • ‘I doubt if society in general would value the inevitable fall in living standards.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘However, the whole purpose of the programme is to raise property values in general in those areas.’
      • ‘After the film we went and sat on the common for ages and just talked about life in general.’
      • ‘It was used to bash intellectuals in general and it was used to bash the political left in general.’
      • ‘The application of computers in general to business in general proceeds rapidly.’
      • ‘Babies are a booming business for the publishing world in particular and the media 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)rəl//ˈjen(ə)rəl/