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[jen-er-uh-luh-zey-shuh n] /ˌdʒɛn ər ə ləˈzeɪ ʃən/
the act or process of generalizing.
a result of this process; a general statement, idea, or principle.
  1. a proposition asserting something to be true either of all members of a certain class or of an indefinite part of that class.
  2. the process of obtaining such propositions.
  1. Also called stimulus generalization. the act or process of responding to a stimulus similar to but distinct from the conditioned stimulus.
  2. Also called response generalization. the act or process of making a different but similar response to the same stimulus.
  3. Also called mediated generalization. the act or process of responding to a stimulus not physically similar to the conditioned stimulus and not previously encountered in conditioning.
  4. the act or process of perceiving similarity or relation between different stimuli, as between words, colors, sounds, lights, concepts or feelings; the formation of a general notion.
Origin of generalization
1755-65; generalize + -ation
Can be confused Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for generalization
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • As Brooks says: "If we could not abstract, we could not generalize, for abstraction is a condition of generalization."

    Thought-Culture William Walker Atkinson
  • Ledwith had the poetic temperament, and the philosopher's power of generalization.

    The Art of Disappearing John Talbot Smith
  • The generalization of the idea of price, while not original with Wicksteed, is interestingly developed by him in chaps.

    Social Value B. M. Anderson
  • It will be of interest to follow the testing of this generalization in other parts of the world.

  • When many things resemble each other in a few properties, we argue about them by generalization.

    The Art of Logical Thinking William Walker Atkinson
  • It is plain that the word suffered a generalization of meaning.

    Laurence Sterne in Germany Harvey Waterman Thayer
  • One respect in which my generalization is false is in picturing Detroit as young.

    Abroad at Home Julian Street
British Dictionary definitions for generalization


a principle, theory, etc, with general application
the act or an instance of generalizing
(psychol) the evoking of a response learned to one stimulus by a different but similar stimulus See also conditioning
(logic) the derivation of a general statement from a particular one, formally by prefixing a quantifier and replacing a subject term by a bound variable. If the quantifier is universal (universal generalization) the argument is not in general valid; if it is existential (existential generalization) it is valid
(logic) any statement ascribing a property to every member of a class (universal generalization) or to one or more members (existential generalization)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for generalization

1761, "act of generalizing," from generalize + -ation. Meaning "a general inference" is from 1794.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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generalization in Medicine

generalization gen·er·al·i·za·tion (jěn'ər-ə-lĭ-zā'shən)

  1. The act or an instance of generalizing.

  2. A principle, a statement, or an idea having general application.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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