GENERALIZATION. A process of SEMANTIC CHANGE that widens the meaning of a WORD, PHRASE, or LEXEME. In Middle English, pigeon meant a young bird, especially a young dove, but from the late 15c has come to refer especially to the whole family Columbidae. Dove is now generally used for a smaller variety of pigeon. Such shifts in meaning are usually slow and tendential rather than rapid and absolute. Early usages continue indefinitely alongside later changes that have become dominant, as was true of pigeon and dove in the 16c. In the process of change, terms may acquire further meanings within a set of words: the pigeon is not a symbol of peace and no one *dove-holes information. See COMPUTER USAGE, SLANG.
gen·er·al·i·za·tion / ˌjenərəliˈzāshən/ • n. a general statement or concept obtained by inference from specific cases: he was making sweeping generalizations. ∎ the action of generalizing: such anecdotes cannot be a basis for generalization.
generalization The evocation of a learned pattern of behaviour by stimuli other than those to which an animal was trained to respond.
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