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abstract Meaning, Definition & Usage

  1. noun a concept or idea not associated with any specific instance
    • he loved her only in the abstract--not in person
  2. noun a sketchy summary of the main points of an argument or theory
    precis; synopsis; outline.
  3. verb consider a concept without thinking of a specific example; consider abstractly or theoretically
  4. verb make off with belongings of others
    pilfer; filch; pinch; swipe; sneak; purloin; hook; lift; snarf; cabbage; nobble.
  5. verb consider apart from a particular case or instance
    • Let's abstract away from this particular example
  6. verb give an abstract (of)
  7. adjective existing only in the mind; separated from embodiment
    • abstract words like `truth' and `justice'
  8. adjective satellite not representing or imitating external reality or the objects of nature
    nonfigurative; abstractionist; nonobjective.
    • a large abstract painting
  9. adjective satellite dealing with a subject in the abstract without practical purpose or intention
    • abstract reasoning
    • abstract science

Ab"stract` adjective
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. Norris.
  2. Considered apart from any application to a particular object; separated from matter; exiting in the mind only; as, abstract truth, abstract numbers. Hence: ideal; abstruse; difficult.
  3. (Logic) (a) 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. (b) Resulting from the mental faculty of abstraction; general as opposed to particular; as, "reptile" is an abstract or general name. Locke.
    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." Milton.
Ab*stract" transitive verb
See Abstract, a.
imperfect & past participle Abstracted; present participle & verbal noun Abstracting
  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. Whately.
  4. To epitomize; to abridge. Franklin.
  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.
Ab*stract" transitive verb
  1. To perform the process of abstraction. R.
    I own myself able to abstract in one sense. Berkeley.
Ab"stract` noun
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. Watts.
    Man, the abstract Of all perfection, which the workmanship Of Heaven hath modeled. Ford.
  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. Syn. -- Abridgment; compendium; epitome; synopsis. See Abridgment.

Webster 1913