a. Relating to or descriptive of an entire group or class: Cancer is a generic term for a group of diseases in which cells proliferate wildly.
b. Lacking specificity; general: made some generic remarks about how to save for retirement.
2. Biology Of or relating to a genus.
a. Relating to or being a product that is sold or distributed without any brand name or without a widely known brand name, especially as a discount alternative to a name-brand product: generic soap.
b. Relating to or being the official nonproprietary name of a drug, under which it is licensed and identified by the manufacturer.
4. Grammar Specifying neither masculine nor feminine gender: generic nouns like waitperson and executive.
1. A product or substance sold under or identified by a generic name.
2. A wine that is a blend of several grape varieties and does not carry the name of any specific grape.
[From Latin genus, gener-, kind; see genə- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
gen′e·rici·ty (jĕn′ə-rĭsĭ-tē), ge·ner·ic·ness n.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 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.