Dictionary > English Dictionary > Definition, synonym and antonym of general
Meaning of general by Wiktionary Dictionary


    Alternative forms


    From Anglo-Norman general, generall, Middle French general, and their source, Latin generālis, from genus ( “class, kind” ) + -ālis ( “-al” ) .


    • ( UK, US ) IPA: /ˈdʒɛnɹəl/, X-SAMPA: /"dZEnr@l/
    • ( US ) IPA: /ˈdʒɛnəɹəl/, X-SAMPA: /"dZEn@r@l/
    • Hyphenation: gen‧er‧al


    general ( comparative more general, superlative most general )

    1. Including or involving every part or member of a given or implied entity, whole etc.; as opposed to specific or particular. [from 13th c.]
    2. Applied to a person ( as a postmodifier or a normal preceding adjective ) to indicate supreme rank, in civil or military titles, and later in other terms; pre-eminent. [from 14th c.]
    3. Prevalent or widespread among a given class or area; common, usual. [from 14th c.]
    4. Not limited in use or application; applicable to the whole or every member of a class or category. [from 14th c.]
    5. Giving or consisting of only the most important aspects of something, ignoring minor details; indefinite. [from 16th c.]
    6. Not limited to a specific class; miscellaneous, concerned with all branches of a given subject or area. [from 16th c.]

    Derived terms

    Related terms


    general ( plural: generals )

    1. Commander of an army .
      Hannibal was one of the greatest generals of the ancient world .
    2. ( military ) A rank in the army and air force that is higher than colonel or brigadier, and is usually the highest rank group next to commander in chief, except in countries that use the rank of field marshal .
    3. ( military ) a commissioned rank in the British Army and Royal Marines, above lieutenant general and below field marshal .
    4. ( military ) a commissioned general officer in the United States Army, Marine Corps, or Air Force superior to a lieutenant general. A general is equal in rank or grade to a four star admiral. In the US Army, a general is junior to a general of the army. In the US Marine Corps, a general is the highest rank of commissioned officer. In the US Air Force, a general is junior to a general of the air force .
    5. Short for general anaesthetic or general anaesthetia .

    Derived terms

    Usage notes

    When used as a title, it is always capitalized .

    Example: General John Doe .

    The rank corresponds to pay grade O-10. Abbreviations: GEN .

    See also



Explanation of general by Wordnet Dictionary


    1. command as a general

    2. We are generaled by an incompetent!
    1. prevailing among and common to the general public

    2. the general discontent
    3. of worldwide scope or applicability

    4. not specialized or limited to one class of things

    5. general studies
      general knowledge
    6. applying to all or most members of a category or group

    7. the general public
      general assistance
      a general rule
      in general terms
      comprehensible to the general reader
    8. affecting the entire body

    9. a general anesthetic
      general symptoms
    10. somewhat indefinite

    11. bearing a general resemblance to the original
      a general description of the merchandise
    1. a fact about the whole ( as opposed to particular )

    2. he discussed the general but neglected the particular
    3. a general officer of the highest rank

    4. the head of a religious order or congregation

    Definition of general by GCIDE Dictionary


    1. General a. [F. général, fr. L. generalis. See Genus.]
      1. Relating to a genus or kind; pertaining to a whole class or order; as, “a general law of animal or vegetable economy”.

      2. Comprehending many species or individuals; not special or particular; including all particulars; as, “a general inference or conclusion”.

      3. Not restrained or limited to a precise import; not specific; vague; indefinite; lax in signification; as, “a loose and general expression”.

      4. Common to many, or the greatest number; widely spread; prevalent; extensive, though not universal; as, “a general opinion; a general custom.”

      This general applause and cheerful shout

      Argue your wisdom and your love to Richard. Shak.

      5. Having a relation to all; common to the whole; as, “Adam, our general sire”. Milton.

      6. As a whole; in gross; for the most part.

      His general behavior vain, ridiculous. Shak.

      7. Usual; common, on most occasions; as, “his general habit or method”.

      ☞ The word general, annexed to a name of office, usually denotes chief or superior; as, attorney-general; adjutant general; commissary general; quartermaster general; vicar-general, etc.

      General agent ( Law ), an agent whom a principal employs to transact all his business of a particular kind, or to act in his affairs generally. -- General assembly. See the Note under Assembly. -- General average, General Court. See under Average, Court. -- General court-martial ( Mil. ), the highest military and naval judicial tribunal. -- General dealer ( Com. ), a shopkeeper who deals in all articles in common use. -- General demurrer ( Law ), a demurrer which objects to a pleading in general terms, as insufficient, without specifying the defects. Abbott. -- General epistle, a canonical epistle. -- General guides ( Mil. ), two sergeants ( called the right, and the left, general guide ) posted opposite the right and left flanks of an infantry battalion, to preserve accuracy in marching. Farrow. -- General hospitals ( Mil. ), hospitals established to receive sick and wounded sent from the field hospitals. Farrow. General issue ( Law ), an issue made by a general plea, which traverses the whole declaration or
      indictment at once, without offering any special matter to evade it. Bouvier. Burrill. -- General lien ( Law ), a right to detain a chattel, etc., until payment is made of any balance due on a general account. -- General officer ( Mil. ), any officer having a rank above that of colonel. -- General orders ( Mil. ), orders from headquarters published to the whole command. -- General practitioner, in the United States, one who practices medicine in all its branches without confining himself to any specialty; in England, one who practices both as physician and as surgeon. -- General ship, a ship not chartered or let to particular parties. -- General term ( Logic ), a term which is the sign of a general conception or notion. -- General verdict ( Law ), the ordinary comprehensive verdict in civil actions, “for the plaintiff” or “for the defendant”. Burrill. -- General warrant ( Law ), a warrant, now illegal, to apprehend suspected persons, without naming individuals.

      Syn. General, Common, Universal. Common denotes primarily that in which many share; and hence, that which is often met with. General is stronger, denoting that which pertains to a majority of the individuals which compose a genus, or whole. Universal, that which pertains to all without exception. To be able to read and write is so common an attainment in the United States, that we may pronounce it general, though by no means universal.

    2. General n. [F. général. See General., a.]

      1. The whole; the total; that which comprehends or relates to all, or the chief part; -- opposed to particular.

      In particulars our knowledge begins, and so spreads itself by degrees to generals. Locke.

      2. ( Mil. ) One of the chief military officers of a government or country; the commander of an army, of a body of men not less than a brigade. In European armies, the highest military rank next below field marshal.

      ☞ In the United States the office of General of the Army has been created by temporary laws, and has been held only by Generals U. S. Grant, W. T. Sherman, and P. H. Sheridan. Popularly, the title General is given to various general officers, as General, Lieutenant general, Major general, Brigadier general, Commissary general, etc. See Brigadier general, Lieutenant general, Major general, in the Vocabulary.

      3. ( Mil. ) The roll of the drum which calls the troops together; as, “to beat the general”.

      4. ( Eccl. ) The chief of an order of monks, or of all the houses or congregations under the same rule.

      5. The public; the people; the vulgar. [Obs.] Shak.

      In general, in the main; for the most part.