Definition of general in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈjen(ə)rəl/


1Affecting or concerning all or most people, places, or things; widespread: books of general interest
More example sentences
  • Use of hard drugs may not be widespread in the general public, but the problems associated with drugs affect many people.
  • In general students are interested in the same things that concern the general public.
  • Usually about five to ten percent of the general population are affected.
widespread, common, extensive, universal, wide, popular, public, mainstream;
established, conventional, traditional, orthodox, accepted
comprehensive, overall, across the board, blanket, umbrella, mass, wholesale, sweeping, broad-ranging, inclusive, companywide;
universal, global, worldwide, nationwide
1.1Not specialized or limited in range of subject, application, activity, etc. brush up on your general knowledge
More example sentences
  • But she failed to pass the national examination because of her poor knowledge of general subjects.
  • The rarity of the disease has limited general knowledge of it and the symptoms it causes.
  • While one section is devoted to literary terms, another attempts to provide general knowledge on a range of topics.
miscellaneous, mixed, assorted, diversified, composite, heterogeneous, eclectic
1.2(Of a rule, principle, etc.) true for all or most cases.
Example sentences
  • As a general principle, the true owner of the cheque is the last person to whom the instrument has been validly transferred.
  • As a general rule, that is probably true, but it is really only a rule of thumb.
  • This has made it difficult to formulate general rules regarding evolutionary trajectories.
1.3Normal or usual: it is not general practice to confirm or deny such reports
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.
usual, customary, habitual, traditional, normal, conventional, typical, standard, regular;
familiar, accepted, prevailing, routine, run-of-the-mill, established, everyday, ordinary, common
2Considering or including the main features or elements of something, and disregarding exceptions; overall: they fired in the general direction of the enemy a general introduction to the subject
More example sentences
  • That memorandum is in somewhat general and imprecise terms.
  • Most patients thought about research in broad, general terms.
  • By reference to those considerations it is possible to identify general features of a discriminatory law.
broad, imprecise, inexact, rough, loose, approximate, unspecific, vague, woolly, indefinite
informal ballpark
3 [often in titles] Chief or principal: a general manager
More example sentences
  • 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.


1A commander of an army, or an army officer of very high rank.
Example sentences
  • 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.
1.1An officer in the US Army, Air Force, or Marine Corps ranking above lieutenant general.
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.
1.2The head of a religious order organized on quasi-military lines, e.g., the Jesuits, the Dominicans, or the Salvation Army.
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.
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

1Usually; mainly: in general, Alexander was a peaceful, loving man
More example sentences
  • It has become a commonplace that numbers are in general poorly dealt with by the mass media.
  • Oak in general is one of the strongest of the common hardwoods of the temperate northern hemisphere.
  • Women do not in general share sport as a common language or as a means of bonding in the same way.
2As a whole: our understanding of culture in general and of literature in particular
More example sentences
  • 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'.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: gen·er·al

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