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Etymology 1[edit]

Capitalization of general.


General (plural Generals)

  1. (military) The military officer title.
    • 1893, William M[ecklenburg] Polk, “The Kentucky Campaign”, in Leonidas Polk, Bishop and General, volume II, London: Longmans, Green, and Co. and New York: [], page 158:
      General Polk stated, with all respect to General Bragg’s great abilities in the direction of organization and discipline, that he had been wanting in the higher elements of generalship in the conduct of the campaign; and that, in view of the admitted possibilities of the campaign, he considered it a failure—an opinion, he said, he believed Generals Smith and Hardee shared with him. He further said that General Bragg had lost the confidence of his generals, and, in answer to a suggestion from the President of a change of commanders, requested that General Joseph E. Johnston should be assigned to the command of the army, if a change were made.

Etymology 2[edit]

Ellipsis of General Hospital.

Proper noun[edit]


  1. (informal, medicine) Short for General Hospital or X General Hospital (where X is a stand-in for another part of the name), a common hospital name.




Partly via Middle High German general, partly via French général, from Latin generalis.


  • IPA(key): /ˌɡe(ː).nəˈʁaːl/ (standard)
  • IPA(key): /ˌɡɛ.nəˈʁaːl/ (alternative in common speech)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -aːl


General m (strong, genitive Generales or Generals, plural Generäle or Generale, feminine Generälin or Generalin)

  1. (military) general (officer in any general rank)
  2. (military) general (officer in a specific general rank, usually the highest)
  3. (Roman Catholicism) general (head of an order)

Usage notes[edit]

  • The two military senses exist alongside each other. In the German Bundeswehr, all army and air-force officers above the rank of colonel (Oberst) are referred to as Generale and each of them is addressed as Herr General. At the same time, General is a specific rank, namely the highest existing rank, typically held by the inspector general and at most one or two other generals.
  • The plural is Generale in the Bundeswehr’s official terminology, but more commonly Generäle otherwise. Singular forms with -e- (des Generales, dem Generale) are exceedingly rare.


Derived terms[edit]


Further reading[edit]