Definition of abstraction in English:

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Pronunciation: /əbˈstrakʃ(ə)n/


[mass noun]
1The quality of dealing with ideas rather than events: topics will vary in degrees of abstraction
More example sentences
  • That surprising, sinking, excited feeling may be the essence of thought as felt experience, rather than as bare abstraction.
  • Here the secret of American hegemony has lain rather in formulaic abstraction, the basis for the fortune of Hollywood.
  • But it is still very uncomfortable when the discourse moves beyond rather bare abstraction.
1.1 [count noun] Something which exists only as an idea: the question can no longer be treated as an academic abstraction
More example sentences
  • He comes to be disgusted by all abstractions and ideas.
  • He was a man whose mind was closed to abstractions and new ideas.
  • Software is not just an abstraction that exists in isolation.
concept, idea, notion, thought, generality, generalization, theory, theorem, formula, hypothesis, speculation, conjecture, supposition, presumption
2Freedom from representational qualities in art: geometric abstraction has been a mainstay in her work
More example sentences
  • Many of the quilts on view could almost be, if you squint, works of geometric abstraction by modern painters.
  • By the 1970s Booth moved from geometric abstraction into drawing and painting his best known images.
  • Geometric abstraction, thirties activism, and Surrealism had their day in American art, but not at the Intimate Gallery or An American Place.
2.1 [count noun] An abstract work of art: critics sought the meaning of O’Keeffe’s abstractions a series of black-and-white abstractions
More example sentences
  • Malevich was represented by iconic Suprematist abstractions and by less familiar works that preceded and followed his brief zenith.
  • Aware of the abstractions of Rothko, Barnett Newman and Clyfford Still, Guston moved alongside them, exploring colour, space and painterly touch alone.
  • Gone were the bronze statues and late-modern abstractions of earlier years.
3A state of preoccupation: she sensed his momentary abstraction
More example sentences
  • She seems quiet and reserved, carefully fingering the showy flowers with a wistful air of abstraction, lost in her own thoughts.
  • The Prince Bishop of Redmond toddled to his seat before the Joint Economic Committee with an air of abstraction and settled himself gently, only to discover that his two Evangelists had no place at the table.
  • The solicitor listened with an air of glassy-eyed abstraction.
absent-mindedness, distraction, preoccupation, daydreaming, dreaminess, inattentiveness, inattention, wool-gathering, absence, heedlessness, obliviousness;
thoughtfulness, pensiveness, musing, brooding, absorption, engrossment, raptness
4The process of considering something independently of its associations or attributes: the question cannot be considered in abstraction from the historical context in which it was raised
More example sentences
  • When, for instance, we claim that water can freeze, we consider water simply as such, in abstraction from the conditions in which any given amount of water finds itself.
  • I think what plausibility the contrary argument might seem to possess results from treating the act of lighting the cigarette in abstraction from the circumstances as a separate act.
  • As a result, the world of nature is studied in abstraction from the reality of God.
5The process of removing something, especially water from a river or other source: the abstraction of water from springs and wells [count noun]: abstractions from the Lowther in Cumbria
More example sentences
  • This project includes the provision of a new source for the abstraction of water from the River Mahon, at the tidal divide near Ballylaneen.
  • On the Thames these days, with increased water abstraction, the river tends to go quickly from a flood to a no-flow situation.
  • Drainage and water abstraction already damage wetlands - peat deposits with all that they can tell us about past environments.
extraction, removal, separation, detachment


Late Middle English: from Latin abstractio(n-), from the verb abstrahere 'draw away' (see abstract).

Words that rhyme with abstraction

action, attraction, benefaction, compaction, contraction, counteraction, diffraction, enaction, exaction, extraction, faction, fraction, interaction, liquefaction, malefaction, petrifaction, proaction, protraction, putrefaction, redaction, retroaction, satisfaction, stupefaction, subtraction, traction, transaction, tumefaction, vitrifaction

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Line breaks: ab|strac¦tion

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