(1)   Existing only in the mind; separated from embodiment
"Abstract words like `truth' and `justice'"
(2)   Dealing with a subject in the abstract without practical purpose or intention
"Abstract reasoning"
"Abstract science"
(3)   Not representing or imitating external reality or the objects of nature
"A large abstract painting"


(4)   A concept or idea not associated with any specific instance
"He loved her only in the abstract--not in person"
(5)   A sketchy summary of the main points of an argument or theory


(6)   Consider a concept without thinking of a specific example; consider abstractly or theoretically
(7)   Consider apart from a particular case or instance
"Let's abstract away from this particular example"
(8)   Give an abstract (of)
(9)   Make off with belongings of others

Etymology 1

From , or from , past participle of formed from + .


  1. An abridgement or summary.
    • Isaac Watts — An abstract of every treatise he had read.
  2. Something that concentrates in itself the qualities of something else.
    • Ford — Man, the abstract Of all perfection, which the workmanship Of Heaven hath modeled.
  3. An abstraction; an abstract term.
  4. An abstract work of art.
  5. That which is abstract.
    • John Stuart Mill — The concretes "father" and "son" have, or might have, the abstracts "paternity" and "filiety".
  6. A powdered solid extract of a vegetable substance mixed with sugar of milk in such proportion that one part of the abstract represents two parts of the original substance.


  1. Extracted.
  2. Considered apart from any application to a particular object; removed from; apart from; separate; abstracted.
    • 17th century: Noris, The Oxford Dictionary - The more abstract we are from the body ... the more fit we shall be to behold divine light.
  3. Absent in mind.
  4. Apart from practice or reality; not concrete; ideal; vague; theoretical; impersonal.
  5. Difficult to understand; abstruse.
  6. Free from representational qualities.
  7. General (as opposed to particular).
    • John Stuart Mill - A concrete name is a name which stands for a thing; an abstract name which stands for an attribute of a thing. A practice has grown up in more modern times, which, if not introduced by Locke, has gained currency from his example, of applying the expression "abstract name" to all names which are the result of abstraction and generalization, and consequently to all general names, instead of confining it to the names of attributes.
  8. Of a class in object-oriented programming, being a partial basis for subclasses rather than a complete template for objects.

  • (not applied or practical): conceptual, theoretical
  • (insufficiently factual): formal
  • (difficult to understand): abstruse

  • (not applied or practical): applied, practical
  • (considered apart from concrete existence): concrete

Etymology 2

From , past participle of ; also from the adjective.


  1. To separate; to remove; to take away.
    • Walter Scott - He was incapable of forming any opinion or resolution abstracted from his own prejudices.
  2. To withdraw.
  3. (euphemistic) To steal; to take away; to remove without permission.
    • W. Black - Von Rosen had quietly abstracted the bearing-reins from the harness.
  4. To create artistic abstractions of.
  5. To summarize; to abridge; to epitomize.
  6. To consider abstractly; to contemplate separately or by itself.
  7. To draw off (interest or attention).
    He was wholly abstracted by other objects.
    • William Blackwood, Blackwood's Magazine - The young stranger had been abstracted and silent.
  8. To extract by means of distillation.
  9. To withdraw oneself; to retire.
  10. To perform the process of abstraction.
  11. To produce an abstraction, usually by refactoring existing code. Generally used with "out".
    He abstracted out the square root function.

  • (to remove, separate, take away, or withdraw): remove, separate, take away, withdraw
  • (to abridge, epitomize, or summarize): abridge, epitomize, summarize
  • (to filch, purloin, or steal): filch, purloin, steal