Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin generalis, from gener-, genus kind, class — more at kin
Date: 14th century
1. involving, applicable to, or affecting the whole
2. involving, relating to, or applicable to every member of a class, kind, or group <the general equation of a straight line> 3. not confined by specialization or careful limitation 4. belonging to the common nature of a group of like individuals ; generic 5. a. applicable to or characteristic of the majority of individuals involved ; prevalent b. concerned or dealing with universal rather than particular aspects 6. relating to, determined by, or concerned with main elements rather than limited details <bearing a general resemblance to the original> 7. holding superior rank or taking precedence over others similarly titled <the general manager> II. noun Date: 14th century 1. something (as a concept, principle, or statement) that involves or is applicable to the whole 2. superior general 3. archaic the general public ; people 4. a. general officer b. a commissioned officer in the army, air force, or marine corps who ranks above a lieutenant general and whose insignia is four stars — compare admiral
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.