Main meanings of universal in English

: universal1Universal2


Pronunciation /juːnɪˈvəːs(ə)l/

See synonyms for universal

Translate universal into Spanish


  • 1Relating to or done by all people or things in the world or in a particular group; applicable to all cases.

    ‘universal adult suffrage’
    • ‘the incidents caused universal concern’
    • ‘Trinidad was granted universal adult suffrage in 1945.’
    • ‘After World War II, universal adult suffrage was introduced and a party system was developed.’
    • ‘It is rooted in a specific place and culture, but the concerns are universal.’
    • ‘Men and women tend to have different physiology, though this is neither a universal, hard-and-fast rule nor a completely made up one.’
    • ‘Laughter is a universal and prominent feature of human communication.’
    • ‘Each nation developed its own language of commemoration, but some features were universal.’
    • ‘Because multicellularity is an experiment that's been run many times in the history of life, scientists may be able to discover some universal rules for how it comes about.’
    • ‘One universal rule is that dogs cannot fly on a plane without the owner on board.’
    • ‘Looking at evolutionary biology, the body's ability to transmit and receive healing energy is a natural and universal design feature of the living system.’
    • ‘I know this is a long way from terrorism, but the rules of logic are universal (arguably).’
    • ‘The first step is to examine the outline of the eight universal features that researchers suggest need to be present in all programs to support youth.’
    • ‘There is no universal rule what ad or what message works.’
    • ‘It is true that some people use pointer in a broader sense more-or-less equivalent to reference, so the distinction made above is not universal.’
    • ‘However, he denies that it is the most general, or universal, concept in the sense of being the highest genus of entities.’
    • ‘The show's concept is the universal feeling that life will be better in another place.’
    • ‘A proposal for a universal 30% increase in child benefit for all children in the 0-5 years category is being examined.’
    • ‘Workers become the universal class, the primary agent of history, by acting on that self-understanding.’
    • ‘I was thinking - in a rather casual way - both about rights created by law, and about rights which are asserted as universal.’
    • ‘The author of this amusing and admirable history of the English language argues powerfully for universal linguistic tolerance.’
    • ‘In fact, nature has found body language so universal that recognition of certain movements is preprogrammed into our brains.’
    general, ubiquitous, comprehensive, common, omnipresent, all-embracing, all-inclusive, all-round, across the board
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    1. 1.1Logic Denoting a proposition in which something is asserted of all of a class.
      Contrasted with particular
      • ‘He connects it with the thesis that only universal propositions can be known.’
    2. 1.2Linguistics Denoting or relating to a grammatical rule, set of rules, or other linguistic feature that is found in all languages.
      • ‘Instead, slang and universal loanwords are used, a so - called ‘globespeak.’’
    3. 1.3(of a tool or machine) adjustable to or appropriate for all requirements.
      ‘As a universal machine, the computer and particularly its software are the centre of interest.’
      • ‘Today the computer is the universal machine that is driving the Information Age.’
      • ‘There's a yawning chasm between their user-experience of partially-universal machines and universal machines.’
      • ‘It is the universal tool that permits the development of multimedia driven complex games.’
      • ‘A Halligan tool is a universal tool that has been used by firefighters for years.’
      • ‘Within two or three years, several true electronic universal machines had been built.’
      • ‘A universal needle can be used in all household sewing machines that accept a flat shank.’
      • ‘Often technologies from Europe and the U.S. are presented as universal tools that can be used anywhere in the world, with equal effectiveness and efficiency.’
      • ‘Use a 90/14 universal needle and good-quality polyester thread.’
      • ‘Use a ballpoint or universal needle for sewing knit fabrics.’
      • ‘And, our engine is quite universal, so we plan to license it as the stand-alone product.’
      • ‘Turing's construction of a universal machine gives the most fundamental insight into computation: one machine can run any program whatsoever.’
      • ‘The importance of the universal machine is clear.’
      • ‘Soon I had a sprinkler, a universal tap adaptor, and 7.5 metres of soaker hose.’
      • ‘If you get skipped stitches with a universal needle, change to a ball-point needle for heavier fabrics or a stretch needle for finer knits.’
      • ‘A ballpoint needle has the most rounded tip and an embroidery needle has a very slightly curved tip - a universal needle is in between.’
      • ‘The computer is the nearest thing we have to a universal tool.’
      • ‘The universal Turing machine is a hypothetical device that scans a digital tape and, in principle, can solve any computable problem.’
      • ‘The sections are crushed at a constant rate in a universal testing machine, while the force required is recorded.’
      • ‘These primers were used together and in combination with the universal primers as appropriate.’


  • 1A thing having universal effect, currency, or application.

    1. 1.1Logic A universal proposition.
      ‘If laws are thought of in some other way - for example, as involving relations of necessitation amongst universals - then the proposal may be more promising.’
      • ‘Consider as a definiendum a universal, such as man, and its definiens, rational animal.’
    2. 1.2Philosophy A term or concept of general application.
      ‘If we move from universals to concepts in general, we can see how category theory could be useful even in cognitive science.’
      • ‘The Idea is composed of universals, general concepts, whereas Nature comprises myriads of particular things.’
      • ‘Abelard defends his thesis that universals are nothing but words by arguing that ontological realism about universals is incoherent.’
      • ‘Abandoning Kantian universals, he looks for more adequate universals for the present, ones that relate to the ordinary everyday lives of ordinary everyday people.’
      • ‘For example, one might want to divide the category of universals into the two sub-categories of properties and relations.’
    3. 1.3Philosophy A nature or essence signified by a general term.
      ‘Human existence has remained under the influence of myths, these being claims to timeless and incontrovertible truths - in essence, universals.’
      • ‘Secondly, are the universals of human nature claimed by academic psychology more accurately seen as Western or Euroamerican patterns?’
      • ‘Conceptualists hold that universals are mental constructions and traditional nominalists hold that either universals are linguistic constructions or they do not exist at all.’
      • ‘Those who think there is some actual universal existing outside the mind are called realists; those who deny extra-mental universals are called nominalists.’
      • ‘Typical advocates of this view admit that universals exist, after a fashion, but they deny that universals have any existence independent of their instances.’
    4. 1.4Linguistics A universal grammatical rule or linguistic feature.
      ‘And I suspect that it's a linguistic universal for farm animals, crops and food products to figure in terms of disdain and abuse.’
      • ‘There are aspects of anaphoric universals which clearly are of a grammatical nature; there are also aspects of anaphoric universals which equally clearly are of a pragmatic nature.’
      • ‘Because of this, the sentence as understood in the Western linguistic tradition has not yet been unequivocally established as a universal of language.’


Late Middle English from Old French, or from Latin universalis, from universus (see universe).

Main meanings of Universal in English

: universal1Universal2


Pronunciation /juːnɪˈvəːs(ə)l/

See synonyms for Universal

Translate Universal into Spanish

proper noun

  • A US film production company formed in 1912.