1. Concerned with, applicable to, or affecting the whole or every member of a class or category: "subduing all her impressions as a woman, to something more general" (Virginia Woolf).
2. Affecting or characteristic of the majority of those involved; prevalent: general discontent.
3. Of or affecting the entire body: general paralysis.
4. Being usually the case; true or applicable in most instances but not all: the general correctness of her decisions.
a. Not limited in scope, area, or application: as a general rule.
b. Not limited to or dealing with one class of things; diversified: general studies.
6. Involving only the main features rather than precise details: a general grasp of the subject.
7. Highest or superior in rank: the general manager.
a. A commissioned rank in the US Army, Air Force, or Marine Corps that is above lieutenant general.
b. One who holds this rank or a similar rank in another military organization.
2. A general officer.
3. A statement, principle, or fact that embraces or is applicable to the whole.
4. General anesthesia.
5. Archaic The public.
[Middle English, from Latin generālis, from genus, gener-, kind; see genə- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Synonyms: general, common, universal
These adjectives mean belonging to, relating to, or affecting the whole: the general welfare; a common enemy; universal military conscription.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.