AskDefine | Define generation

Dictionary Definition



1 all the people living at the same time or of approximately the same age [syn: coevals, contemporaries]
2 group of genetically related organisms constituting a single step in the line of descent
3 the normal time between successive generations; "they had to wait a generation for that prejudice to fade"
4 a stage of technological development or innovation; "the third generation of computers"
5 a coming into being [syn: genesis]
6 the production of heat or electricity; "dams were built for the generation of electricity"
7 the act of producing offspring or multiplying by such production [syn: multiplication, propagation]

User Contributed Dictionary



Old French génération, from Latin generatio.


  • /ˌʤɛnəˈɹeɪʃən/, /%dZEn@"reIS@n/
  • Rhymes: -eɪʃǝn


  1. The act of generating or begetting; procreation, as of animals.
  2. Origination by some process, mathematical, chemical, or vital; production; formation; as, the generation of sounds, of gases, of curves, etc
  3. That which is generated or brought forth; progeny; offspring.
  4. A period of around thirty years, the average amount of time before a child takes the place of its parents.
  5. A single step or stage in the succession of natural descent; a rank or remove in genealogy, or collectively the body of people who are of the same genealogical rank or remove from an ancestor; the mass of beings living at one time.
    • This is the book of the generations of Adam - Genesis 5:1
    • Ye shall remain there [in Babylon] many years, and for a long season, namely, seven generations - Baruch 6:3
    • All generations and ages of the Christian church - Hooker
  6. Race; kind; family; breed; stock.
    • Thy mother's of my generation; what's she, if I be a dog? - Shakespeare, Timon of Athens, I-iii
  7. The formation or production of any geometrical magnitude, as a line, a surface, a solid, by the motion, in accordance with a mathematical law, of a point or a magnitude; as, the generation of a line or curve by the motion of a point, of a surface by a line, a sphere by a semicircle, etc.
  8. "The aggregate of the functions and phenomena which attend reproduction.
    There are four modes of generation in the animal kingdom: scissiparity or by fissiparous generation, gemmiparity or by budding, germiparity or by germs, and oviparity or by ova"

Derived terms

  • Alternate generation, alternation of sexual with asexual generation, in which the products of one process differ from those of the other, -- a form of reproduction common both to animal and vegetable organisms. In the simplest form, the organism arising from sexual generation produces offspring unlike itself, agamogenetically. These, however, in time acquire reproductive organs, and from their impregnated germs the original parent form is reproduced. In more complicated cases, the first series of organisms produced agamogenetically may give rise to others by a like process, and these in turn to still other generations. Ultimately, however, a generation is formed which develops sexual organs, and the original form is reproduced
  • Spontaneous generation, the fancied production of living organisms without previously existing parents from inorganic matter, or from decomposing organic matter, a notion which at one time had many supporters; abiogenesis


fixme=Translation table header lacks gloss

Extensive Definition

Generation (from the Greek γενεά), also known as procreation, is the act of producing offspring. It can also refer to the act of creating something inanimate such as electrical generation or cryptographic code generation.
A generation can also be a stage or degree in a succession of natural descent as a grandfather, a father, and the father's son comprise three generations.
A generation can refer to stages of successive improvement in the development of a technology such as the internal combustion engine, or successive iterations of products with planned obsolescence, such as video game consoles or mobile phones.
In biology, the process by which populations of organisms pass on advantageous traits from generation to generation is known evolution.


A generation has traditionally been defined as “the average interval of time between the birth of parents and the birth of their offspring." This places a generation at around 20 years in span and this matches the generations up to and including the Baby Boomers. However, while in the past this has served sociologists well in analysing generations, it is irrelevant today.
Firstly, because cohorts are changing so quickly in response to new technologies, changing career and study options, and because of shifting societal values, two decades is far. Secondly, the time between birth of parents and birth of offspring has stretched out from two decades to more than three. Looking at Australian statistics, the median age of a woman having her first baby was 24 in 1976, while today it is just over 30.
  • UK - 27.4
So, today a generation refers to a cohort of people born into and shaped by a particular span of time (events, trends and developments). And the span of time has contracted significantly.

Generational labels

The various labels given the living generations – the Builders through to Gen Z – reflect the times which have shaped their generational profile. The names given the Builders reflect the events that shaped them (the World Wars and the Depression); the Boomer labels, the population boom following World War II and the shedding of moral codes after the sexual revolution of the 60s and 70s (the love generation and the lost generation, for example); the X-er labels, the material prosperity of the times (the options generation) and the after-math of the sexual revolution (the baby-busters), and the Gen Y labels, the digital age that heralded in its birth.

Generation Table

Please note that these years that have been noted are quite vague and may differ slightly (in some cases quite substantially) from country to country.

See also

Contrary to some objections a rumor of a Generation Z has grown in the United states... pending confirmation... as this is just a rumor
generation in Arabic: جيل
generation in Belarusian (Tarashkevitsa): Пакаленьне
generation in Catalan: Generació
generation in Czech: Generace
generation in German: Generation
generation in Italian: Generazione
generation in Dutch: Generatie (periode)
generation in Japanese: 世代
generation in Norwegian: Generasjon
generation in Russian: Поколение
generation in Simple English: Generation
generation in Slovak: Generácia (pokolenie ľudí)
generation in Serbian: Генерација (биологија)
generation in Finnish: Sukupolvi
generation in Swedish: Generation

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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