Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

general - definition and synonyms

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

adjective     general pronunciation in British English
  1. 1
    not specific, exact, or detailed

    Could you just give us a general description of the work you do?

    Her predictions are so general that they could apply to anybody.

    in general terms:

    We are prepared to discuss the deal in general terms, but the details are confidential.

    general idea:

    I’m probably not making myself very clear, but you get the general idea.

  2. 2
    true for most people, things, or situations, or affecting most of them

    There was general agreement at the meeting that the plan was too expensive.

    The fighting could escalate into a more general war.

    Family planning has now become general throughout society.

    It’s in the general interest that we should have a well-run health service.

    as a general rule:

    As a general rule, shorter sentences are easier to understand.

  3. 3
    [only before noun] used for describing the whole of something, without considering the details

    I get the general impression that they aren’t very happy.

    He has this general attitude of superiority toward his colleagues.

    Your general physical condition seems remarkably good.

  4. 4
    dealing with all areas of a subject or activity, rather than concentrating on a particular area
    the general reader/viewer (=someone who is not an expert):

    science programmes that are accessible to the general viewer

    general contractor/insurer/labourer (=someone who deals with all types of work):

    The building and plumbing work will be done by a general contractor.

  5. 5
    used, especially in job titles, for saying that someone is responsible for the whole of something
    general manager/secretary:

    Peter Klimt is the new European general manager.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter


a lifestyle focussing on simple pleasures such as comfort and cosiness in the home, and spending time with friends and family

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary


a form of location that involves the underwater detonation of a bomb which causes sound waves that are picked up by ships

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play