Definition of general in English:


Line breaks: gen|eral
Pronunciation: /ˈdʒɛn(ə)r(ə)l


  • 3 [often in titles] Chief or principal: the Director General of the BBC the general manager
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    • 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.
    • That is a matter for the general manager and the chief executive of the Department of Labour.
    • By comparison, half of the teams in the majors have changed general managers in the past three years.


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  • 1A commander of an army, or an army officer of very high rank.
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    • The most stable connection is that between the military commander and generals and officers directly subordinated to him.
    • Senior generals and staff officers know this, which is why they are reluctant to rush into attacking at such a time.
    • But under his warring sons several major field armies emerged, under generals of even higher rank.
  • 1.1A 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.
    More example sentences
    • The senior officers - generals, brigadiers, colonels - were all at a loss about what to do.
    • There are paintings and photographs of generals, lieutenants, sergeants, privates, secretaries and commanders-in-chief.
    • I'm privileged to spend a good bit of time with our military officers, from generals to new lieutenants.
  • 1.2 informal short for lieutenant general or major general.
  • 1.3The head of a religious order organized on quasi-military lines, e.g. the Jesuits, the Dominicans, or the Salvation Army.
    More example sentences
    • Realizing that he might need some help, the Church sent the generals of the Dominican and Franciscan orders as his advisors.
  • 2 (the general) • archaic The general public.


as a general rule

In most cases.
More example sentences
  • Pines are woody perennial species with approximately 10 years per generation as a general rule.
  • Therefore, as a general rule, greater transparency is usually better.
  • 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.

in general

  • 2As a whole: our understanding of culture in general and of literature in particular
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    • 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.


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'.

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