To generate is to make or produce something, usually a product, an idea, or money.

  • Their company is generating a lot of new revenue this year. (They’re making a lot of money.)
  • Manufacturing generates employment for millions of workers worldwide.
  • Secretary Kerry hopes the gesture of peace will generate good will among the people of the country.
  • Police brutality generates a lot of hostility among people who suffer from it.

The word "generate" is often used when describing a source of energy:

  • A wind mill generates electricity from the wind.
  • Electricity can be generated from solar power.
  • A hydroelectric plant generates electricity from the flow of water from a river or a dam.
  • Electricity generated by burning coal is cheap, but it pollutes the air.
  • Solar energy can generate enough power for a person’s house.
  • A generator generates electricity. (A generator is a machine or a large system for producing electricity.)

solar energy solar collectors

The word "generation" is a noun.

  • The generation of electricity from coal is not sustainable. The world needs to find cleaner sources of energy.
  • The generation of knowledge from a university results in the development of new technology.

Sometimes the word "generation" refers to a group of people born within a 20 to 25-year period of time. This use of the word is quite different from the examples above.

  • The baby-boom generation began in the late 1940s after World War II.
  • Older people have a hard time relating to members of younger generations.
  • Several generations will have to pass before the painful memories of the war (pick one) are erased.

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January 8, 2015