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[jen-er-uh-lahyz] /ˈdʒɛn ər əˌlaɪz/
verb (used with object), generalized, generalizing.
to infer (a general principle, trend, etc.) from particular facts, statistics, or the like.
to infer or form (a general principle, opinion, conclusion, etc.) from only a few facts, examples, or the like.
to give a general rather than a specific or special character or form to.
to make general; bring into general use or knowledge.
verb (used without object), generalized, generalizing.
to form general principles, opinions, etc.
to deal, think, or speak in generalities.
to make general inferences.
Also, especially British, generalise.
Origin of generalize
1745-55; general + -ize
Related forms
generalizable, adjective
generalizer, noun
nongeneralized, adjective
ungeneralized, adjective
ungeneralizing, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for generalize
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
  • It is just as impossible to generalize granite and slate, as it is to generalize a man and a cow.

  • Only with great reserve should any student announce ultimate results, or generalize upon the whole problem.

    Quaker Hill Warren H. Wilson
  • There are too many words as well as too few; and they generalize the objects or ideas which they represent.

    Cratylus Plato
  • A disposition to deny the student the right to reach conclusions in the laboratory,—or, as we flamboyantly say, to "generalize."

    College Teaching Paul Klapper
British Dictionary definitions for generalize


to form (general principles or conclusions) from (detailed facts, experience, etc); infer
(intransitive) to think or speak in generalities, esp in a prejudiced way
(transitive; usually passive) to cause to become widely used or known
(intransitive) (of a disease)
  1. to spread throughout the body
  2. to change from a localized infection or condition to a systemic one: generalized infection
Derived Forms
generalizer, generaliser, noun
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 generalize

1751, probably a new formation from general (adj.) + -ize. Middle English had generalisen (early 15c.). Related: Generalizable; generalized; generalizing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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generalize in Medicine

generalize gen·er·al·ize (jěn'ər-ə-līz')
v. gen·er·al·ized, gen·er·al·iz·ing, gen·er·al·iz·es

  1. To reduce to a general form, class, or law.

  2. To render indefinite or unspecific.

  3. To infer from many particulars.

  4. To draw inferences or a general conclusion from.

  5. To make generally or universally applicable.

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