GEN'ERAL, a. [L. generalis, from genus, a kind.]1. Properly, relating to a whole genus or kind; and hence, relating to a whole class or order. Thus we speak of a general law of the animal or vegetable economy. This word, though from genus, kind, is used to express whatever is common to an order, class, kind, sort or species, or to any company or association of individuals.2. Comprehending many species or individuals; not special or particular; as, it is not logical to draw a general inference or conclusion from a particular fact.3. Lax in signification; not restrained or limited to a particular import; not specific; as a loose and general expression.4. Public; common; relating to or comprehending the whole community; as the general interest or safety of a nation.5. Common to many or the greatest number; as a general opinion; a general custom.6. Not directed to a single object. If the same thing be peculiarly evil, that general aversion will be turned into a particular hatred against it.7. Having a relation to all; common to the whole. Adam, our general sire.8. Extensive, though not universal; common; usual.
This word is prefixed or annexed to words, to express the extent of their application. Thus a general assembly is an assembly of a whole body, in fact or by representation. In Scotland, it is the whole church convened by its representatives. In America, a legislature is sometimes called a general assembly.
In logic, a general term is a term which is the sign of a general idea.
An attorney general, and a solicitor general, is an officer who conducts suits and prosecutions for the king or for a nation or state, and whose authority is general in the state or kingdom.
A vicar general has authority as vicar or substitute over a whole territory or jurisdiction.
An adjutant general assists the general of an army, distributes orders, receives returns, &c.
The word general thus annexed to a name of office, denotes chief or superior; as a commissary general, quarter-master general.
In the line, a general officer is one who commands an army, a division or a brigade.
GEN'ERAL, n. The whole; the total; that which comprehends all or the chief part; opposed to particular. In particulars our knowledge begins, and so spreads itself by degrees to generals. A history painter paints man in general.1. In general, in the main; for the most part; not always or universally. I have shown that he excels, in general,under each of these heads.2. The chief commander of an army. But to distinguish this officer from other generals, he is often called general in chief. The officer second in rank is called lieutenant general.3. The commander of a division of an army or militia, usually called a major general.4. The commander of a brigade, called a brigadier general.5. A particular beat of drum or march, being that which, in the morning, gives notice for the infantry to be in readiness to march.6. The chief of an order of monks, or of all the houses or congregations established under the same rule.7. The public; the interest of the whole; the vulgar. [Not in use.]