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Webster 1913 Edition


General

Gen′er-al

,
Adj.
[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.
Shakespeare
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.
Shakespeare
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.
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.

Gen′er-al

,
Noun.
[F.
général
. See
General
.,
Adj.
]
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.

Webster 1828 Edition


General

GEN'ERAL

,
Adj.
[L. generalis, from genus, a kind.]
1.
Properly, relating to a whole genus or kind; and hence, relating to a whole class or order. Thus we speak of a general law of the animal or vegetable economy. This word, though from genus, kind, is used to express whatever is common to an order, class, kind, sort or species, or to any company or association of individuals.
2.
Comprehending many species or individuals; not special or particular; as, it is not logical to draw a general inference or conclusion from a particular fact.
3.
Lax in signification; not restrained or limited to a particular import; not specific; as a loose and general expression.
4.
Public; common; relating to or comprehending the whole community; as the general interest or safety of a nation.
5.
Common to many or the greatest number; as a general opinion; a general custom.
6.
Not directed to a single object.
If the same thing be peculiarly evil, that general aversion will be turned into a particular hatred against it.
7.
Having a relation to all; common to the whole. Adam, our general sire.
8.
Extensive, though not universal; common; usual.
This word is prefixed or annexed to words, to express the extent of their application. Thus a general assembly is an assembly of a whole body, in fact or by representation. In Scotland, it is the whole church convened by its representatives. In America, a legislature is sometimes called a general assembly.
In logic, a general term is a term which is the sign of a general idea.
An attorney general, and a solicitor general, is an officer who conducts suits and prosecutions for the king or for a nation or state, and whose authority is general in the state or kingdom.
A vicar general has authority as vicar or substitute over a whole territory or jurisdiction.
An adjutant general assists the general of an army, distributes orders, receives returns, &c.
The word general thus annexed to a name of office, denotes chief or superior; as a commissary general, quarter-master general.
In the line, a general officer is one who commands an army, a division or a brigade.

GEN'ERAL

,
Noun.
The whole; the total; that which comprehends all or the chief part; opposed to particular.
In particulars our knowledge begins, and so spreads itself by degrees to generals.
A history painter paints man in general.
1.
In general, in the main; for the most part; not always or universally.
I have shown that he excels, in general,under each of these heads.
2.
The chief commander of an army. But to distinguish this officer from other generals, he is often called general in chief. The officer second in rank is called lieutenant general.
3.
The commander of a division of an army or militia, usually called a major general.
4.
The commander of a brigade, called a brigadier general.
5.
A particular beat of drum or march, being that which, in the morning, gives notice for the infantry to be in readiness to march.
6.
The chief of an order of monks, or of all the houses or congregations established under the same rule.
7.
The public; the interest of the whole; the vulgar. [Not in use.]

Definition 2021


General

General

English

Noun

General (uncountable)

  1. (military) The military officer title

German

Etymology

Partly via Middle High German general, partly via French général, from Latin generalis.

Pronunciation

  • IPA(key): /ˌge(ː).nəˈʁaːl/ (standard)
  • IPA(key): /ˌgɛ.nəˈʁaːl/ (alternatively in common speech)
  • Rhymes: -aːl

Noun

General m (genitive Generals or Generales, plural Generäle or Generale)

  1. (military) general (officer in any general rank)
  2. (military) general (officer in a specific general rank, usually the highest)
  3. (Roman Catholicism) general (head of an order)

Usage notes

  • The two military senses exist alongside each other. In the German Bundeswehr, all army and air-force officers above the rank of colonel (Oberst) are referred to as Generale and each of them is addressed as Herr General. At the same time, General is a specific rank, namely the highest existing rank, typically held by the inspector general and at most one or two other generals.
  • The plural is Generale in the Bundeswehr’s official terminology, but more commonly Generäle otherwise. Singular forms with -e- (des Generales, dem Generale) are exceedingly rare.

Declension

Derived terms

  • Brigadegeneral
  • Generalfeldmarschall
  • Generalität
  • Generalleutnant
  • Generalmajor
  • Generaloberst

general

general

English

Alternative forms

Adjective

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.]
    • c. 1495, John Skelton, "Vppon a deedman's hed":
      It is generall / To be mortall: / I haue well espyde / No man may hym hyde / From Deth holow eyed [...].
    • 1842, Douglas Jerrold, "Mr Peppersorn ‘At Home’", Cakes and Ale:
      "Among us!" was the general shout, and Peppersorn sat frozen to his chair.
    • 1946, Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy, I.27:
      Undoubtedly the age of the Antonines was much better than any later age until the Renaissance, from the point of view of the general happiness.
    • 2006, Ruth Sutherland, "Invite public to the private equity party", The Observer, 15 Oct 06:
      One advantage of having profitable companies in Britain is that they pay large sums in corporate tax into the Exchequer, which in theory at least is used for the general good.
  2. (sometimes postpositive) 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.]
    • 1865, Edward Cust, Lives of the Warriors of the Thirty Years War, page 527:
      For these successes he obtained the rank of Field-Marshal General.
    • 2002, James Turner, Libertines and Radicals in Early Modern London, page 122:
      He becomes the chief chartered libertine, the whoremaster-general flourishing his "standard" over a female army [...].
  3. Prevalent or widespread among a given class or area; common, usual. [from 14th c.]
    • 1817, Walter Scott, Rob Roy, IX:
      ‘I can't quite afford you the sympathy you expect upon this score,’ I replied; ‘the misfortune is so general, that it belongs to one half of the species [...].’
    • 2008, John Patterson, "Home movies", The Guardian, 20 Dec 08:
      The general opinion on Baz Luhrmann's overstuffed epic Australia seems to be that it throws in everything but the kitchen sink, and then tosses that in too, just to be sure.
  4. Not limited in use or application; applicable to the whole or every member of a class or category. [from 14th c.]
    • 1924, Time, 17 Mar 1924:
      M. Venizelos went to Athens from Paris early last January in response to a general invitation from the Greek populace.
    • 2009, Douglas P Zipes, Saturday Evening Post, volume 281:1, page 20:
      Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) is a general term indicating a rapid heartbeat (tachycardia) coming from the top chambers of the heart - in essence, above (supra) the lower chamber (ventricular).
  5. Giving or consisting of only the most important aspects of something, ignoring minor details; indefinite. [from 16th c.]
    • 1817, Walter Scott, Rob Roy, X:
      As she thus spoke, the entrance of the servants with dinner cut off all conversation but that of a general nature.
    • 2006, Kevin Nance, "Ghosts of the White City", Chicago Sun-Times, 16 Jul 06:
      The quick answer is that the 1893 Exposition was simply so important — "the greatest event in the history of the country since the Civil War," as Harper's put it that October — but that feels too general.
    • 2008, Robert P Maloney, "The Quiet Carpenter", America, volume 199:19, page 18:
      Given the scarcity of relevant historical detail in the New Testament, we are left with only a general outline about Joseph.
  6. Not limited to a specific class; miscellaneous, concerned with all branches of a given subject or area. [from 16th c.]
    • 1941, W Somerset Maugham, Up at the Villa, Vintage 2004, page 24:
      There was a moment's pause. The Princess broke in with some casual remark and once more the conversation became general.
    • 1947, "Russian Catechism", Time, 20 Oct 1947:
      Already in the primary school work is conducted for the purpose of equipping the pupils with those elements of general knowledge which are closely related to the military preparation of future warriors.
    • 2007, Alan Cheuse, "A Little Death", Southern Review, volume 43:3, page 692:
      His measured, springless walk was the walk of the skilled countryman as distinct from the desultory shamble of the general labourer [...].

Antonyms

Derived terms

Related terms

Translations

Noun

general (plural generals)

  1. (now rare) A general fact or proposition; a generality. [from 16th c.]
    We have dealt with the generals; now let us turn to the particulars.
  2. (military) A senior military title, originally designating the commander of an army and now a specific rank falling under field marshal (in the British army) and below general of the army or general of the air force in the US army and air forces. [from 16th c.]
  3. A great strategist or tactician. [from 16th c.]
    Hannibal was one of the greatest generals of the ancient world.
  4. (Christianity) The head of certain religious orders, especially Dominicans or Jesuits. [from 16th c.]
  5. (nautical) A commander of naval forces; an admiral. [16th-18th c.]
  6. (colloquial, now historical) A general servant; a maid with no specific duties. [from 19th c.]
    • 1918, Rebecca West, The Return of the Soldier, Virago 2014, page 16:
      She flung at us as we sat down, ‘My general is sister to your second housemaid.’
  7. A general anaesthetic; general anaesthesia.
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.

Translations

See also

Verb

general (third-person singular simple present generals, present participle generalling or generaling, simple past and past participle generalled or generaled)

  1. To lead (soldiers) as a general

Statistics

Most common English words before 1923: why · women · cried · #355: general · king · nature · answered

Anagrams


Catalan

Etymology

From Latin generālis.

Adjective

general m, f (masculine and feminine plural generals)

  1. general

Noun

general m (plural generals, feminine generala)

  1. general

Derived terms


Danish

Noun

general c (singular definite generalen, plural indefinite generaler)

  1. general

Inflection


Ladin

Adjective

general m (feminine singular generala, masculine plural generai, feminine plural generales)

  1. general

Norwegian Bokmål

Noun

general m (definite singular generalen, indefinite plural generaler, definite plural generalene)

  1. (military) a general

Norwegian Nynorsk

Noun

general m (definite singular generalen, indefinite plural generalar, definite plural generalane)

  1. (military) a general

Old French

Etymology

Borrowed from Latin generālis.

Noun

general m (oblique plural generaus or generax or generals, nominative singular generaus or generax or generals, nominative plural general)

  1. (military) general

Adjective

general m (oblique and nominative feminine singular generale)

  1. general (not limited in use or application; applicable to the whole or every member of a class or category)

Declension

Descendants


Portuguese

Etymology

Borrowed from Latin generālis. See also geral, from the same source.

Pronunciation

  • (Brazil) IPA(key): /ʒe.neˈɾaʊ̯/
  • (Portugal) IPA(key): /ʒɨ.nɨˈɾaɫ/
  • Hyphenation: ge‧ne‧ral

Noun

general m (plural generais)

  1. general

Descendants


Romanian

Etymology

Borrowing from French général, from Latin generālis.

Pronunciation

  • IPA(key): /d͡ʒe.neˈral/

Noun

general m (plural generali)

  1. general

Declension

Adjective

general m, n (feminine singular generală, masculine plural generali, feminine and neuter plural generale)

  1. general

Declension

Related terms


Serbo-Croatian

Etymology

From German General, from Latin generalis.

Pronunciation

  • IPA(key): /ɡeněraːl/
  • Hyphenation: ge‧ne‧ral

Noun

genèrāl m (Cyrillic spelling генѐра̄л)

  1. general (military rank)

Declension


Slovene

Etymology

From German General, from Latin generalis.

Pronunciation

  • IPA(key): /ɡɛnɛˈráːl/
  • Tonal orthography: generȃl

Noun

generál m anim (genitive generála, nominative plural generáli, feminine generálica or generálinja)

  1. general (military rank)

Declension


Spanish

Etymology

From Latin generālis.

Pronunciation

  • IPA(key): /xe.neˈɾal/

Adjective

general m, f (plural generales)

  1. general

Derived terms

Noun

general m (plural generales, feminine generala)

  1. (military) general

Swedish

Pronunciation

Noun

general c

  1. a general[1]
  2. an Air Chief Marshal[1]

Declension

Inflection of general 
Singular Plural
Indefinite Definite Indefinite Definite
Nominative general generalen generaler generalerna
Genitive generals generalens generalers generalernas

References

  1. 1 2 Utrikes namnbok (7th ed., 2007) ISBN 978-913832379-3