Dictionary > General


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 sout Argue your wisdom and your love to richard. (Shak)
5. Having a relation to all; common to the whole; as, adam, our general sire.
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, a warrant, now illegal, to apprehend suspected persons, without naming individuals.
Synonym: 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.
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. 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. The roll of the drum which calls the troops together; as, to beat the general.
4. 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. In general, in the main; for the most part.
Origin: f. General, fr. L. Generalis. See genus.