Definition of abstract in English:

abstract

Syllabification: ab·stract

adjective

Pronunciation: /abˈstrakt, ˈabˌstrakt
 
 
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1Existing in thought or as an idea but not having a physical or concrete existence: abstract concepts such as love or beauty
More example sentences
  • Poetry allows us to examine science in a way that purely scientific discourse cannot by analogizing abstract concepts into concrete forms.
  • Making haiku is a most effective way of exploring ways of expressing abstract concepts in concrete language, of pulling out the essence of a feeling and making it into something unique.
  • In that profession you start with a blank sheet of paper and a concept or abstract idea.
Synonyms
theoretical, conceptual, notional, intellectual, metaphysical, ideal, philosophical, academic
1.1Dealing with ideas rather than events: the novel was too abstract and esoteric to sustain much attention
More example sentences
  • Potokar's poetry seems rather abstract, at times cryptic, but at the same time palpable and relentless in its attempt to fight despair and solitude.
  • The pace is languid and events too abstract to be a children's movie, yet corny stunts alienate mature viewers.
  • Some people feel modern dance is difficult to follow, somewhat abstract or esoteric.
1.2Not based on a particular instance; theoretical: we have been discussing the problem in a very abstract manner
More example sentences
  • Courts are not supposed to decide questions which are merely moot, theoretical, abstract or hypothetical.
  • So a culture based on abstract reasoning, or on various metaphysical precepts, may itself be simply a product of evolutionary change.
  • Not some theoretical, abstract cost, but a real cost.
1.3(Of a word, especially a noun) denoting an idea, quality, or state rather than a concrete object: abstract words like truth or equality
More example sentences
  • Many abstract nouns are uncountable, but not all uncountable nouns are abstract.
  • And although ubuntu can be grammatically classified as an abstract noun, it is often employed in relational contexts.
  • This is, strangely enough, an unusual example of an abstract noun being masculine in Hebrew - most of them are feminine.
1.4Of or relating to abstract art: abstract pictures that look like commercial color charts
More example sentences
  • Both legs and abstract shapes contribute to an almost painterly overall compositional effect.
  • It's a beautiful work of abstract colour and texture, of contrasting dark and light.
  • Rothko stresses that the contrast between abstract and representational painting is overdrawn, that all art has subject matter.
Synonyms

verb

Pronunciation: /abˈstrakt
 
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[with object] Back to top  
1Consider (something) theoretically or separately from something else: to abstract science and religion from their historical context can lead to anachronism [no object]: he cannot form a general notion by abstracting from particulars
More example sentences
  • But, while Elkins writes good staccato dialogue, he abstracts his characters from society.
  • These are two senses in which mathematics is an abstract subject: it abstracts the important features from a problem and it deals with objects that are not concrete and tangible.
  • The flaw in that approach, in our submission, is that it tends to dismember the definition of ‘refugee’ in Article 1A and then abstracts a particular element from its context and seeks to say that the Tribunal must deal with that element.
2Extract or remove (something): applications to abstract more water from streams
More example sentences
  • What makes the humanities (separate from the arts) important is that they take the areas where we have insufficient data and try to abstract useful principles from it.
  • And, even though Patrick Mason's production is presented by Edinburgh's Royal Lyceum Company, I question his decision to abstract the play from its Irish setting with its echoes of the Ulysses Night-town sequence.
  • The most egregious of these is the tendency, exemplified by Norm and Omar, to abstract a situation from the mesh of geopolitical considerations in which it is embedded and reduce it to a stark moral question.
Synonyms
extract, isolate, separate, detach
2.1Used euphemistically to say that someone has stolen something: his pockets contained all he had been able to abstract from the apartment
More example sentences
  • He was sentenced to six years for the production of cannabis and four years for abstracting electricity.
2.2 (abstract oneself) Withdraw: as our relationship deepened you seemed to abstract yourself
More example sentences
  • So it's always the moment when I'm stuck in reality - I have to abstract myself from it.
  • One thing suggested here is that only when you are able to abstract yourself, to look at yourself as if at a distance, as if you were mourning yourself, can you recognize yourself in a way that allows you to remember that you are alive at all.
  • It assumes humans can abstract themselves from reality and go romping through history looking for the all-powerful distant cause that will explain each and every aspect of our current situation.
3Make a written summary of (an article or book): staff who index and abstract material for an online database
More example sentences
  • Conversely, the same volunteer scholar (noted by his initials at the end of the record) abstracted another article more thoroughly.
  • Final data were abstracted directly from published articles or estimated from descriptive statistics presented in the articles.
  • We thank Michelle Grondin for her help in retrieving articles and abstracting data and Nancy Cleary for her administrative assistance.
Synonyms

noun

Pronunciation: /ˈabˌstrakt
 
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Back to top  
1A summary of the contents of a book, article, or formal speech: an abstract of his inaugural address
More example sentences
  • Dr. De Luca has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles, over 200 abstracts, a book, and holds 12 patents.
  • In the meantime, many journals provide at their Web sites at least a limited listing of tables of contents of their most recent issues, sometimes with abstracts and occasional articles.
  • Content that we intend keeping free throughout this period includes abstracts of articles, rapid responses, and the Editor's Choice column.
Synonyms
2An abstract work of art: a big unframed abstract
More example sentences
  • Paint-Or-Die manages to represent a wide gamut of modern painting styles: colour-field painting, abstracts, figurative and representational styles are all here.
  • Working in acrylics, inks, and soft pastels her paintings range from tender abstracts depicting human emotions to more powerful and emotive images full of eastern promise and the mystical unknown.
  • He is now experimenting with big abstracts in oils.
3 (the abstract) That which is abstract; the theoretical consideration of something: the abstract must be made concrete by examples
More example sentences
  • Chagall's public writings did not tend toward the abstract or theoretical.

Origin

Middle English: from Latin abstractus, literally 'drawn away', past participle of abstrahere, from ab- 'from' + trahere 'draw off'.

Phrases

in the abstract

In a general way; without reference to specific instances: there’s a fine line between promoting US business interests in the abstract and promoting specific companies
More example sentences
  • Still, people seem to be more fond of free speech in the abstract than in specific instances.
  • And that's certainly a good idea, at least in the abstract and as a general matter.
  • I have a strong suspicion that generals are always better in the abstract than in reality.

Derivatives

abstractly

adverb
More example sentences
  • Many law students tend to phrase things too abstractly; this exercise aims to help them make their writing more concrete and therefore clearer and more effective.
  • If they do, your children will have far more chance of learning to think abstractly by the end of their GCSEs, and some of them might end up at university studying science or possibly even become scientists.
  • Somehow hearing abstractly about 6 million killed just does not make the same emotional connection as reading the full story of one little girl and her family.

abstractor

noun
sense 3 of the verb.
More example sentences
  • He said: ‘We will be consulting fully with angling clubs, water abstractors and other waterway users.’
  • Even when they are, researchers must try to control for variations in quality; author-supplied abstracts, for example, are frequently less systematic or structured than those written by professional abstractors.
  • There are abstractors, including Meridian Energy, that would divert water to another catchment or into storage, and there are those who value the water in-stream.

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