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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
abstract noun
an abstract concept (=based on general ideas rather than on something that exists)
▪ He finds it hard to grasp abstract concepts.
an abstract notion
▪ In art, how can you represent abstract notions such as peace or justice?
an abstract sculpture
▪ an abstract sculpture of the universe
▪ The danger in viewing the organisation as a purposeful entity is that one ends up with a highly abstract and artificial analysis.
▪ It follows that narrative poetics is in fact a form of historiography, a highly abstract story of stories.
▪ One reason for this may have lain in the unwillingness of biologists to accept the highly abstract nature of his theory.
▪ Her work became more purely abstract, and yet refused to conform to the Puritan style often associated with abstract art.
▪ But, of course, they must never remain purely abstract.
▪ Such thoughts were not purely abstract, but directed towards Eliot's own values and to London.
▪ Genette's relational strategy leads him to construct purely abstract combinations without any real existence in literature.
▪ For example, cubism is very little like its object, and abstract art, not at all.
▪ And this museum, previously named the Museum of Non-Objective Art, was championing abstract art as early as the 1930s.
▪ Really I prefer abstract art, but it's more difficult to sell.
▪ Pop art directly challenged what was increasingly seen as abstract art's esoteric retreat from the world.
▪ In 1937 the historian Meyer Schapiro, writing first in Marxist Quarterly, analysed the opposition of realist and abstract art.
▪ David Tindle recounts: Minton was further exacerbated by the groundswell of interest in abstract art forming at this time.
▪ One of the reasons is, I think, that there was a kind of tension between abstract art and decoration.
▪ Her work became more purely abstract, and yet refused to conform to the Puritan style often associated with abstract art.
▪ It is, however, especially difficult in the history of modernism to reconnect abstract artists with nature.
▪ As we shall see, there are problems inherent in trying to give shape to such an abstract concept as political culture.
▪ Ultimately, a central objective of political theorizing is to replace proper names with abstract concepts.
▪ We frequently telephone asking him to illustrate some obscure or abstract concept.
▪ As she gets older; she may have difficulty comprehending abstract concepts that are communicated through what she hears.
▪ Political culture is a vague abstract concept that has been subject to various definitions.
▪ Words are only essential to put across more abstract concepts and intellectual ideas.
▪ Mathematics Mathematics is concerned essentially with understanding abstract concepts.
▪ Yet the scholarly energy which reinvigorated abstract concepts of political function was identical with that which satirized them.
▪ She is remembered largely for her pioneering ` dancing modernism, a corollary to abstract expressionism.
▪ Like Watson, Carr has assembled generous visual material on the best-known artists of abstract expressionism, especially Pollock and de Kooning.
▪ In the context of post-war uncertainty it is relatively easy to relate existentialism to abstract expressionism.
▪ O'Hara's list of friends reads like a Who's Who of abstract expressionism.
▪ Far from hanging on to its radical credentials, abstract expressionism was seen by many to have sedimented into mainstream orthodoxy.
▪ The cult of abstract expressionism ricocheted around the world.
▪ The dominance of abstract expressionism has been buttressed by an impressive degree of partisanship and an illusion of consensus.
▪ The titles of these essays indicate that the terms in which historians were writing about abstract expressionism had refocused art history.
▪ The museum directors and critics did not name any abstract expressionist, let alone Pollock.
▪ We encounter Judd before the rest of the minimalists and Clyfford Still after his fellow abstract expressionists.
▪ Lately I have been studying the paintings of an abstract expressionist named Diebenkorn.
▪ A further example of abstract form which is not mere pattern is Tantric art.
▪ It is obvious that affective factors are involved even in the most abstract forms of intelligence.
▪ This is fairly obvious with a relatively abstract form such as a moral code.
▪ There are formal operational thinkers - those who immediately grasp the abstract form of the problem and solve it quickly and easily.
▪ In the Introduction to the Principles, Berkeley spends a considerable time arguing against the doctrine of abstract ideas.
▪ Are they planned in terms of transforming abstract ideas or theories into useful learning experiences?
▪ How about this for an abstract idea!
▪ Entrants had to pick one of the four sections and develop their design from the abstract ideas that they found there.
▪ The abstract idea of the Rechtsstaat must not be set above the values which it is designed to defend.
▪ All historical writings, even those which deal with complicated and abstract ideas, narrate stories about people and their lives.
▪ In generative phonology, the claim is that, at the abstract level, vowels are simply tense or lax.
▪ Our point here is that at an abstract level, every organization values pretty much the same things.
▪ In structuralism, these formal properties are taken at a relatively abstract level.
▪ At an abstract level, these arguments are probably true.
▪ People understand - on an abstract level - that education and training are important.
▪ You have already been allowed to enter an abstract model of Pool.
▪ The abstract models presented in Figure 9. 1 are our starting point for understanding the idea of a political economy.
▪ Where there is no love to start with, there is nothing of an abstract nature to withhold.
Nature is the setting but abstract nature; feeling, not representation.
▪ This chapter will analyse the abstract nature of the search space drawing on relevant aspects of state-space search theory.
▪ Another kind of stress is of a more abstract nature.
▪ One reason for this may have lain in the unwillingness of biologists to accept the highly abstract nature of his theory.
▪ Think about clichés, abstract nouns, adjectives and adverbs.
▪ We might even discover that he uses a lower number of abstract nouns than other writers of his time.
▪ Have you used words that are too familiar, worn-out similes, too many abstract nouns?
▪ But introducing an abstract noun is not the same thing as providing an explanation.
▪ But the abstract painters don't want to produce decoration, they want to produce High Art.
▪ Nadler, a serious abstract painter, displays a small gem at Davis Dominguez.
▪ The fourth dimension also played a part in uniting a number of abstract painters and sculptors in the inter-war period.
▪ Sean Scully is one senior abstract painter whose work is both personal and ostentatious.
▪ Several large abstract paintings shout at her.
▪ The foyer and staircase are hung with Mondrian-inspired abstract paintings.
▪ His hatred of abstract painting - even of people like Jackson Pollock and Nicholson.
▪ A good abstract painting is an experiment I don't have to conduct because some one has done it for me.
▪ She saw feet sinking into the thick pile of the new rugs whose abstract patterns evoked the work of contemporary artists.
▪ A vast, impersonal, abstract pattern stands be-hind this legend.
▪ This sample illustrates how easy it is to create abstract patterns from familiar objects by using the various options available.
▪ Industrious Buddhist monks laid out gardens everywhere full of abstract patterns that preceded Picasso by centuries.
▪ And that tuned in well with my inclinations to look for formal qualities and make more or less abstract patterns out of nature.
▪ But these themes are always interspersed with more fanciful ones: grimacing masks, weird animals, exuberant abstract patterns.
▪ Judges present decisions behind the veil of abstract principle which often conceals the naked face of consequentialist considerations of loss distribution.
▪ But when I became an adult, I began to see the importance of those abstract principles in a personal way.
▪ But it was never expected that voters would forsake their loyalties in large numbers for an abstract principle.
▪ There is a somewhat abstract quality about this body which currently operates out of solicitors' premises somewhere in Berkshire.
▪ In these circumstances such corporate wealth begins to take on an almost abstract quality.
▪ These figures have an abstract quality, and may not seem to mean much.
▪ Decibel is the personification of an abstract quality.
▪ To the Milesians, however, the opposites were not abstract qualities, on a par with numbers, but concrete stuffs.
▪ They are not merely abstract theory or pious statements of intent that look good posted on the staff notice board.
▪ The first level was of abstract theory and method; the second was centred upon current policy questions.
▪ But she had no more time for abstract thoughts.
▪ Lakoff and several others in his field have demonstrated, how-ever, that nearly all conceptual and abstract thought is structured metaphorically.
▪ Their ideological development should be viewed as much in terms of this harmonization as in terms of the abstract thought of isolated intellectuals.
▪ Some say language, others abstract thought, and so on.
▪ The morphologists' interpretation of evolution invoked adaptation only in the most abstract way.
▪ He even found himself liking the gunman in an abstract way, despite Gomez's future role as his executioner.
▪ Formalist analyses of abstract works proved compelling at first, although they became difficult to sustain.
▪ What he can do, however, is render remarkable mixed-media abstract works that revel in the auras of his subjects.
▪ A lot of people don't like abstract art.
▪ a new exhibition of abstract paintings
▪ By the age of about seven, children are capable of abstract thought.
▪ Gorbachev took the abstract idea of reform and made it a reality.
▪ It's an abstract design that's supposed to represent freedom and strength.
▪ The photographs put a human face on an abstract political event.
▪ But vibrant is such an abstract term that it can not be used to describe what to look for in a dough.
▪ By about 1930 she had ceased painting, though for several more years she made small, colourful, increasingly abstract water-colours.
▪ In this book, therefore, attention is concentrated on relations of the more abstract sort.
▪ Nature is the setting but abstract nature; feeling, not representation.
▪ The abstract graffiti of Aaron Siskind was done first by Weston.
▪ They begin by challenging the current opinion that all peoples share basic functions of the mind such as logical and abstract abilities.
▪ To be understood, avoid abstract terms.
▪ You have already been allowed to enter an abstract model of Pool.
▪ A call for papers has been issued and abstracts should be submitted as soon as possible.
▪ A call for papers has been issued and the deadline for abstracts is 4 May 1992.
▪ But religion does not reside in theological abstracts.
▪ Even with abstracts, the theme was, more often than not a Biblical one.
▪ He came and stood beside me and picked out one of the new abstracts I'd done at home.
▪ At all levels past the rudimentary, strategies for abstracting meaning from text and imparting meaning into text count for nearly everything.
▪ Data used to produce the I9X binding profile was abstracted from reference 21.
▪ Frequently we abstract from this covenant by singling out the Ten Commandments and ignoring much of the remainder of the Mosaic code.
▪ His movements were slow, his gaze abstracted, as if he were composing a poem in his head.
▪ It has art's power to translate, to abstract from the circumstances in which it originates.
▪ Whatever musings had abstracted me from the charms of the city fled before the lucidity of that long-drawn-out instant of disaster.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Abstract \Ab"stract`\ (#; 277), a. [L. abstractus, p. p. of abstrahere to draw from, separate; ab, abs + trahere to draw. See Trace.]

  1. Withdraw; separate. [Obs.]

    The more abstract . . . we are from the body.

  2. Considered apart from any application to a particular object; separated from matter; existing in the mind only; as, abstract truth, abstract numbers. Hence: ideal; abstruse; difficult.

  3. (Logic)

    1. Expressing a particular property of an object viewed apart from the other properties which constitute it; -- opposed to concrete; as, honesty is an abstract word.
      --J. S. Mill.

    2. Resulting from the mental faculty of abstraction; general as opposed to particular; as, ``reptile'' is an abstract or general name.

      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.
      --J. S. Mill.

  4. Abstracted; absent in mind. ``Abstract, as in a trance.''

    An abstract idea (Metaph.), an idea separated from a complex object, or from other ideas which naturally accompany it; as the solidity of marble when contemplated apart from its color or figure.

    Abstract terms, those which express abstract ideas, as beauty, whiteness, roundness, without regarding any object in which they exist; or abstract terms are the names of orders, genera or species of things, in which there is a combination of similar qualities.

    Abstract numbers (Math.), numbers used without application to things, as 6, 8, 10; but when applied to any thing, as 6 feet, 10 men, they become concrete.

    Abstract mathematics or Pure mathematics. See Mathematics.


Abstract \Ab*stract"\, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Abstracted; p. pr. & vb. n. Abstracting.] [See Abstract, a.]

  1. To withdraw; to separate; to take away.

    He was incapable of forming any opinion or resolution abstracted from his own prejudices.
    --Sir W. Scott.

  2. To draw off in respect to interest or attention; as, his was wholly abstracted by other objects.

    The young stranger had been abstracted and silent.
    --Blackw. Mag.

  3. To separate, as ideas, by the operation of the mind; to consider by itself; to contemplate separately, as a quality or attribute.

  4. To epitomize; to abridge.

  5. To take secretly or dishonestly; to purloin; as, to abstract goods from a parcel, or money from a till.

    Von Rosen had quietly abstracted the bearing-reins from the harness.
    --W. Black.

  6. (Chem.) To separate, as the more volatile or soluble parts of a substance, by distillation or other chemical processes. In this sense extract is now more generally used.


Abstract \Ab*stract"\, v. t. To perform the process of abstraction. [R.]

I own myself able to abstract in one sense.


Abstract \Ab"stract`\, n. [See Abstract, a.]

  1. That which comprises or concentrates in itself the essential qualities of a larger thing or of several things. Specifically: A summary or an epitome, as of a treatise or book, or of a statement; a brief.

    An abstract of every treatise he had read.

    Man, the abstract Of all perfection, which the workmanship Of Heaven hath modeled.

  2. A state of separation from other things; as, to consider a subject in the abstract, or apart from other associated things.

  3. An abstract term.

    The concretes ``father'' and ``son'' have, or might have, the abstracts ``paternity'' and ``filiety.''
    --J. S. Mill.

  4. (Med.) 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.

    Abstract of title (Law), an epitome of the evidences of ownership.

    Syn: Abridgment; compendium; epitome; synopsis. See Abridgment.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

"abridgement or summary of a document," mid-15c., from abstract (adj.). The general sense of "a smaller quantity containing the virtue or power of a greater" [Johnson] is recorded from 1560s.


1540s, from Latin abstractus or else from the adjective abstract. Related: Abstracted; abstracting, abstractedly.


late 14c., originally in grammar (of nouns), from Latin abstractus "drawn away," past participle of abstrahere "to drag away, detach, pull away, divert;" also figuratively, from ab(s)- "away" (see ab-) + trahere "draw" (see tract (n.1)).\n

\nMeaning "withdrawn or separated from material objects or practical matters" is from mid-15c. That of "difficult to understand, abstruse" is from c.1400. Specifically in reference to modern art, it dates from 1914; abstract expressionism as an American-based uninhibited approach to art exemplified by Jackson Pollock is from 1952, but the term itself had been used in the 1920s of Kandinsky and others.\n\nOswald Herzog, in an article on "Der Abstrakte Expressionismus" (Sturm, heft 50, 1919) gives us a statement which with equal felicity may be applied to the artistic attitude of the Dadaists. "Abstract Expressionism is perfect Expressionism," he writes. "It is pure creation. It casts spiritual processes into a corporeal mould. It does not borrow objects from the real world; it creates its own objects .... The abstract reveals the will of the artist; it becomes expression. ..." [William A. Drake, "The Life and Deeds of Dada," 1922]\n

\nThen, that art we have called "abstract" for want of any possible descriptive term, with which we have been patient, and, even, appreciative, getting high stimulation by the new Guggenheim "non-objective" Art Museum, is reflected in our examples of "surrealism," "dadaism," and what-not, to assert our acquaintance in every art, fine or other.

[Report of the Art Reference Department of Pratt Institute Free Library for year ending June 30, 1937]


Etymology 1

  1. 1 (context obsolete English) Derived; extracted. (Attested from around 1350 to 1470 until the late 15th century.) 2 (context now rare English) Drawn away; removed from; apart from; separate. (First attested around 1350 to 1470.) 3 Expressing a property or attribute separately of an object that is considered to be inherent to that object. (First attested around 1350 to 1470.) 4 Considered apart from any application to a particular object; not concrete; ideal; non-specific; general, as opposed to specific. (First attested around 1350 to 1470.) 5 Difficult to understand; abstruse; hard to conceptualize. (First attested around 1350 to 1470.) 6 (context archaic English) absent-minded. (First attested in the early 16th century.) 7 (context arts English) Pertaining to the formal aspect of art, such as the lines, colors, shapes, and the relationships among them. (First attested in the mid 19th century.) 8 # (context arts often capitalized English) Free from representational qualities, in particular the non-representational styles of the 20th century. (First attested in the mid 19th century.) 9 # (context music English) absolute. 10 # (context dance English) Lacking a story. 11 Insufficiently factual.(R:MW3 1976: page=8) 12 Apart from practice or reality; vague; theoretical; impersonal; not applied. 13 (context grammar English) As a noun, denoting an intangible as opposed to an object, place, or person. 14 (context computing English) Of a class in object-oriented programming, being a partial basis for subclasses rather than a complete template for objects. n. 1 An abridgement or summary of a longer publication. (First attested around 1350 to 1470.)(R:SOED5: page=10) 2 Something that concentrates in itself the qualities of larger item, or multiple items. (First attested in the mid 16th century.) 3 # Concentrated essence of a product. 4 # (context medicine English) A powdered solid extract of a medicinal substance mixed with lactose.(reference-book last = first = authorlink = coauthors = editor =Thomas, Clayton L. others = title =Taber's Encyclopedic Medical Dictionary origdate = origyear = 1940 origmonth = url = format = accessdate = accessyear = accessmonth = edition = 5th date = year =1993 month = publisher =F. A. Davis Company location =Philadelphia, PA language = id = doi = isbn =0-8036-8313-8 lccn = ol = pages =14 chapter = chapterurl = quote =) 5 An abstraction; an #Adjective term; that which is abstract. (First attested in the mid 16th century.) 6 The theoretical way of looking at things; something that exists only in idealized form. (First attested in the early 17th century.) 7 (context arts English) An abstract work of art. (First attested in the early 20th century.) 8 (context real estate English) A summary title of the key points detailing a tract of land, for ownership; abstract of title. Etymology 2


  2. 1 (context transitive English) To separate; to disengage. (First attested around 1350 to 1470.) 2 (context transitive English) To remove; to take away; withdraw. (First attested in the late 15th century.) 3 (context transitive euphemistic English) To steal; to take away; to remove without permission. (First attested in the late 15th century.) 4 (context transitive English) To summarize; to abridge; to epitomize. (First attested in the late 16th century.) 5 (context transitive obsolete English) To extract by means of distillation. (Attested from the early 17th century until the early 18th century.) 6 (context transitive English) To consider abstractly; to contemplate separately or by itself; to consider theoretically; to look at as a general quality. (First attested in the early 17th century.) 7 (context intransitive reflexive literally figuratively English) To withdraw oneself; to retire. (First attested in the mid 17th century.) 8 (context transitive English) To draw off (interest or attention). 9 (context intransitive rare English) To perform the process of abstraction. 10 (context intransitive fine arts English) To create abstractions. 11 (context intransitive computing English) To produce an abstraction, usually by refactoring existing code. Generally used with "out".

  1. n. a concept or idea not associated with any specific instance; "he loved her only in the abstract--not in person" [syn: abstraction]

  2. a sketchy summary of the main points of an argument or theory [syn: outline, synopsis, precis]

  1. adj. existing only in the mind; separated from embodiment; "abstract words like `truth' and `justice'" [ant: concrete]

  2. not representing or imitating external reality or the objects of nature; "a large abstract painting" [syn: abstractionist, nonfigurative, nonobjective]

  3. based on specialized theory; "a theoretical analysis" [syn: theoretical]

  4. dealing with a subject in the abstract without practical purpose or intention; "abstract reasoning"; "abstract science"

  1. v. consider a concept without thinking of a specific example; consider abstractly or theoretically

  2. make off with belongings of others [syn: pilfer, cabbage, purloin, pinch, snarf, swipe, hook, sneak, filch, nobble, lift]

  3. consider apart from a particular case or instance; "Let's abstract away from this particular example"

  4. give an abstract (of)

Abstract (law)

In law, an abstract is a brief statement that contains the most important points of a long legal document or of several related legal papers.


Abstract may refer to:

  • Abstract (album), 1962 album by Joe Harriott
  • Abstract (law), a summary of a legal document
  • Abstract (summary), in academic publishing
  • Abstract art, artistic works that don't attempt to represent reality or concrete subjects
  • Abstract music
  • Abstract object in philosophy
  • Abstract structure in mathematics
  • Abstract type in computer science
  • The property of an abstraction
  • Q-Tip (rapper), also known as "The Abstract"
Abstract (summary)

An abstract is a brief summary of a research article, thesis, review, conference proceeding or any in-depth analysis of a particular subject and is often used to help the reader quickly ascertain the paper's purpose. When used, an abstract always appears at the beginning of a manuscript or typescript, acting as the point-of-entry for any given academic paper or patent application. Abstracting and indexing services for various academic disciplines are aimed at compiling a body of literature for that particular subject.

The terms précis or synopsis are used in some publications to refer to the same thing that other publications might call an "abstract". In management reports, an executive summary usually contains more information (and often more sensitive information) than the abstract does.

Abstract (album)

Abstract is the third album by Jamaican saxophonist Joe Harriott recorded in England in 1961 and 1962 and released on the Capitol label.

Usage examples of "abstract".

That the Accompts of the Receipts and Expenditure of the Society shall be audited annually by three Auditors, to be elected at the General Meetings, and that the Report of the Auditors, with an Abstract of the Accompts, shall be published.

This brief abstract applies to plants alone: some strictly analogous facts could be given on the distribution of terrestrial animals.

Along with the novel of plot and the novel of character, certain old-fashioned theorists of the novel would sometimes speak of the novel of ideas, implying that it was a special taste, and that there is something distinct, if not antithetical, about ideas and the kind of narrative pleasure one derives from less abstract and more simply suspenseful stones: what will happen next?

In the lesson on the rule for conversion of fractions to equivalent fractions with different denominators, the pupils could not possibly apperceive, or analyse, the examples as suggested under the head of selection, or analysis, without at the same time implicitly abstracting and generalizing.

Those persons who, from their age, or sex, or occupations, were the least qualified to judge, who were the least exercised in the habits of abstract reasoning, aspired to contemplate the economy of the Divine Nature: and it is the boast of Tertullian, that a Christian mechanic could readily answer such questions as had perplexed the wisest of the Grecian sages.

Bee had been delighted to find that Brat had what Simon so consciously lacked: an interest in the genus horse in the abstract.

Jesus Christ divulged the sacred and eternal truths contained in these views to mankind, and Christianity, in its abstract purity, became the exoteric expression of the esoteric doctrines of the poetry and wisdom of antiquity.

They covered the entire range of art from abstract expressionism to photograph-clarity still life.

Like abstract expressionism, which was celebrated as an expression of American freedom, the shopping center stood as a symbol of the promise of American politics.

The secret faith of the 20th century is nostalgia for the archaic, nostalgia for the Paleolithic, and that gives us body piercing, abstract expressionism, surrealism, jazz, rock and roll, and Catastrophe Theory.

Abstract expressionist paintings hung on the walls, splotches of colors communicating a welter of emotions.

Page had been staring toward a violently colored Abstract Expressionist painting across from her all the while she spoke in a monotone, her flat, bleak voice communicating no hint of the intense turmoil that her eyes indicated she was feeling.

Carved pillars made of whole tree trunks stood in three rings inside, and two huge freestanding gateposts like Abstract Expressionist totem poles marked the southeastern door.

The art magazine told me that when abstract expressionism reflected utter disenchantment with the dream it still reverted to rhetorical simplifications even in its impiety, and that it is not a unified stylistic entity because of its advocacy of alien ideas on the basis of a homiletic approach to experience.

Your intelligence tells you that such a process is not abstract reasoning, and your homocentric thesis compels you to conclude that it can be only a mechanical, instinctive process.