Definition of generalize in English:



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

    ‘it is not easy to generalize about the poor’
    ‘it is tempting to generalize from these conclusions’
    • ‘However, it is not easy to generalize about the ethnographic research process in such a way as to provide definitive recommendations about research practice.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But it's hard to generalize about almost 300 million people.’
    • ‘Because states have distinctive histories and are located in particular places there are definite limits in our ability to generalize about state systems.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘As much as I hate to generalize about such a large group of people, I'm going to do it anyway.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Such an extreme contrast should tell anyone how stupid it is to generalize about racism.’
    • ‘On the other hand, I'll admit that the few I've seen have actually been quite good, and hard to generalize about.’
    • ‘It's actually difficult to generalize about Canada.’
    • ‘It is difficult, however, to generalize about species native to Australia since much of the literature is based on northern hemisphere or crop species.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Anthologies like this one invite us to generalize about differences between U.S. and U.K. poetics.’
    imprecise, inexact, rough, approximate, inexplicit, non-specific, loose, ill-defined, generalized, ambiguous, equivocal, hazy, woolly
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    1. 1.1Make or become more widely or generally applicable.
      [with object] ‘most of what we have observed in this field can be generalized to other fields’
      [no object] ‘many of the results generalize to multibody structures’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘We have generalized this method and made it applicable to data from multiple unlinked loci.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Several factors suggest caution before widely generalizing our findings.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Caution should be used in generalizing this study's results to other student 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.’
      • ‘Whether the results will generalize remains to be seen.’
      • ‘Can the results from scientific research be generalized to witnesses in the real world?’
      • ‘The very institutions that helped generalise the boom now spread the panic.’
      • ‘The homogenous nature of the subjects limits the ability to generalize results to other populations.’
      • ‘The researchers recognize the need to have a higher response rate to be able to generalize findings to the population.’
      • ‘Rather than report on the details of their results, we present here a more generalized discussion.’
      • ‘Our current efforts are directed at improving these tools for E. coli, making them widely available, and generalizing them to other microorganisms.’
      • ‘No differences were found to exist and the results were generalized to the target population.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘For example, studies that generalise findings from limited population samples of incarcerated offenders are arguably missing datasets from the most intelligent criminal populations.’
      give currency to, spread, propagate, give credence to, universalize, generalize
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  • 2[with object] Make (something) more widespread or common.

    ‘attempts to generalize an elite education’
    1. 2.1Medicine (of a disease) affecting much or all of the body; not localized.
      ‘a generalized rash and fever’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘However, in two cases of segmental disease, genetic transmission of the generalized disease has been reported.’


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