Definition of abstract in English:



  • 1Existing in thought or as an idea but not having a physical or concrete existence.

    ‘abstract concepts such as love or beauty’
    • ‘Numbers in early historical times were thought of much more concretely than the abstract concepts which are our numbers today.’
    • ‘What is relevant in the economic realm is not an abstract concept or formula - no matter how beautiful - but its physical embodiment.’
    • ‘This is a laudable but somewhat abstract concept.’
    • ‘Or is it an abstract place existing inside people's minds?’
    • ‘One conclusion that one might be tempted to draw from this is that mathematical truths cannot, after all, imply the existence of specific abstract objects of any kind.’
    • ‘Thus, ‘the Chinese are always forced by the very nature of the language to resort to concrete expression for abstract concepts’.’
    • ‘The colours each had several meanings, some of which were abstract ideas, some concrete as in the cattle and sheep example.’
    • ‘I urge that the general public be made more aware of this very useful result of a very abstract physical theory.’
    • ‘One of the reasons is undoubtedly that stories bring ideas to life and help readers see abstract concepts in action.’
    • ‘Like Borges, his writing examines the consequences of abstract theories in the physical world.’
    • ‘In that profession you start with a blank sheet of paper and a concept or abstract idea.’
    • ‘Wilber has so far failed to attract the large mainstream audience that his ideas deserve - in part because his writing is so often abstract and theoretical.’
    • ‘Even at the time, it was very obvious to me that these were not people who were interested in ideas or ethereal, abstract notions of human liberty.’
    • ‘In the high Arctic, climate change isn't an abstract concept’
    • ‘Freedom of the press is not an abstract concept, freedom of the press has a purpose: to deliver the truth.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The function of a metaphor is to explain one thing in terms of another thing - typically, to clarify an abstract concept by comparing it to something concrete.’
    • ‘It means a combination of things, both abstract and physical.’
    • ‘Poetry allows us to examine science in a way that purely scientific discourse cannot by analogizing abstract concepts into concrete forms.’
    • ‘Fabre explains that his metaphors are simultaneously real and illusory, physical and abstract, living and dead.’
    • ‘It will be easier at this time to put abstract ideas into concrete form.’
    theoretical, conceptual, notional, intellectual, metaphysical, philosophical, academic
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    1. 1.1Dealing with ideas rather than events.
      ‘the novel was too abstract and esoteric to sustain much attention’
      • ‘Video has a place on blogs, especially in reporting about tsunamis and other events that are dramatic and not abstract.’
      • ‘I found it abstract and rather unmoving, more of an idea for a drama than a compelling drama itself.’
      • ‘Neither has Lane done himself any favours by dispensing with a chronological narrative in favour of themed chapters with abstract titles such as Complicity and Betrayal.’
      • ‘Here's a big goof that new web writers frequently make: writing copy that's too abstract, too esoteric, too philosophical.’
      • ‘Some people feel modern dance is difficult to follow, somewhat abstract or esoteric.’
      • ‘Lyrics are abstract and often inscrutable, but powerful images sometime fight through the verbal and instrumental haze.’
      • ‘It's about the right image going with the right story in the right direction, rather than it being abstract.’
      • ‘They are very abstract, based on mythical and dreamy themes.’
      • ‘Looking at German games, all of them have a strong abstract base to them.’
      • ‘These stories are not abstract or theoretical and they communicate a local opinion directly.’
      • ‘The other dream was a lot more abstract and involved.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But the same critics applauded our next production, ‘Search for my Tongue’, which was abstract and based on the loss of identity.’
      • ‘At the moment, for many, it's just too abstract and theoretical.’
      • ‘The pace is languid and events too abstract to be a children's movie, yet corny stunts alienate mature viewers.’
      • ‘Certainly, if last night's showing was anything to go by, his work was somewhat abstract and obscure, and obviously an acquired taste.’
      • ‘This debate may appear rather abstract right now.’
      • ‘Her comments in interviews and at readings, likewise, reveal the startling literalness of her apparently abstract, difficult poems.’
      • ‘After all, math is so abstract that it's hard to communicate ideas to other mathematicians.’
      • ‘The choreography is abstract and seemed very difficult - it demands strong technique and exactness.’
      abstruse, obscure, arcane, recherché, rarefied, recondite, difficult, hard, puzzling, perplexing, enigmatic, inscrutable, cryptic, delphic
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    2. 1.2Not based on a particular instance; theoretical.
      ‘we have been discussing the problem in a very abstract manner’
      • ‘Second, this shaky notion was based on a highly abstract and contentious branch of physics known as string theory.’
      • ‘The question of Being, far from being too abstract or theoretical an issue, will prove to be important for understanding exile.’
      • ‘It is grotesquely, disastrously wrong about the Labour Party, and it imposes an abstract answer on a concrete situation.’
      • ‘But these laws and theorems are not just abstract mathematics.’
      • ‘While the research work is highly abstract and theoretical, it has practical applications in computer science, Goins notes.’
      • ‘For a longer piece of work, you would have the luxury to break down the symbols further and make those symbols interact in a more abstract manner, which will boost the power of the sigil.’
      • ‘It came through concrete example and abstract argument.’
      • ‘Not some theoretical, abstract cost, but a real cost.’
      • ‘We respond to dangers that our ancestors equipped us to understand, like fire and fangs and claws, more readily than we respond to threats based on abstract reasoning.’
      • ‘They mean something more abstract - a philosophical schema for governing, which often amounts to a slogan to describe one's ideology.’
      • ‘Modem science, no matter how theoretical, speculative and abstract, strives finally for empirical evidence to test and confirm its truth claims.’
      • ‘Those were theoretical or abstract possibilities not applying to this case.’
      • ‘My political culture is empirical rather than abstract.’
      • ‘Courts are not supposed to decide questions which are merely moot, theoretical, abstract or hypothetical.’
      • ‘But equally, he claimed that he was capable of dissociating himself from his physical disorders only through abstract thought.’
      • ‘The reason for believing that it is a largely abstract and theoretical issue is that the Court of Appeal judgments implied strongly that that was so.’
      • ‘Once we get a hint we are capable of making the original more abstract and less concrete, of extending a concrete and singular concept into more abstract spheres.’
      • ‘So a culture based on abstract reasoning, or on various metaphysical precepts, may itself be simply a product of evolutionary change.’
      • ‘I can understand why she has that impression; many gay-marriage advocates have talked about gay marriage in these rather loose and abstract terms.’
      • ‘There, I can discuss things from my past in an abstract manner, without directly pointing fingers.’
      theoretical, conceptual, notional, intellectual, metaphysical, philosophical, academic
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    3. 1.3(of a noun) denoting an idea, quality, or state rather than a concrete object.
      • ‘One does not mind the ending, but one notices that when Taylor strings together abstract nouns, he is at his least compelling.’
      • ‘Many abstract nouns are uncountable, but not all uncountable nouns are abstract.’
      • ‘You cannot have a war on an abstract noun. ‘Terrorism’ is that.’
      • ‘There is nothing wrong in principle in waging war on an abstract noun; the British navy successfully waged a war on slavery, by which they meant a war on slavers.’
      • ‘And although ubuntu can be grammatically classified as an abstract noun, it is often employed in relational contexts.’
      • ‘Perspicacity is an abstract noun describing a certain capacity of a certain capability.’
      • ‘Sitor, according to Nirwan, often achieves this by using abstract nouns.’
      • ‘How, if it's a category mistake to think that you can fight a war against it, do you organise an international campaign against an abstract noun?’
      • ‘Verbs and adjectives are more abstract, and so are more difficult concepts for children's minds to grasp.’
      • ‘This is, strangely enough, an unusual example of an abstract noun being masculine in Hebrew - most of them are feminine.’
      • ‘There will be confusion if we continue to use the word ‘morality’ because it is an abstract noun.’
      • ‘The more the state expands in this way, the more success it will enjoy in the only one of its wars on abstract nouns it wages unremittingly - the War on Capital.’
      • ‘Liberty is a ponderous and not-to-be-used-lightly abstract noun.’
      • ‘The most difficult task for the mothers was to explain the concept of abstract nouns and mimetic words in Korean.’
      • ‘But terror is an abstract noun, not a country as our Constitution pickily insists for a war.’
      • ‘But it is Brutus who is the most instantly recognisable modern figure in his use of abstract nouns to justify political ends.’
      • ‘As your Honours have seen the substantive provision of the Act is one which uses the abstract noun.’
      • ‘The former is an abstract noun, the latter is a person.’
      • ‘Today in Mr. Danton's class, I got hit with a ruler again for saying love was a concrete noun and not an abstract one.’
      • ‘All the stories were written specifically for this collection - all have abstract nouns as titles and all are thematically linked.’
  • 2Relating to or denoting art that does not attempt to represent external reality, but rather seeks to achieve its effect using shapes, colours, and textures.

    ‘abstract pictures’
    • ‘For these abstract artists, the external world is mediated by internal feelings.’
    • ‘His later style of the 1940s is more abstract and colour becomes the most important factor.’
    • ‘These two shows, a few months apart, displayed the tactile and abstract effects she wrings from such small-scale marks.’
    • ‘It's a beautiful work of abstract colour and texture, of contrasting dark and light.’
    • ‘Several artists claimed to be the first to paint an abstract picture, rather as early photographers had wrangled over who had invented the camera.’
    • ‘The layers of abstract colour in her current work recalls another German painter, Gerhard Richter.’
    • ‘Goodwin now works in both representational and abstract modes.’
    • ‘I remember how Robert Motherwell didn't like the term abstract expressionism and preferred abstract automatism.’
    • ‘In the '50s, he made heavily textured abstract paintings using crumpled mulberry paper and globs of oil paint.’
    • ‘The lower half of the artwork consists of dark splotches and torn-paper abstract effects.’
    • ‘They resemble cone-like wall sconces, and the colorful abstract shapes covering their surfaces appear to glow like stained glass windows.’
    • ‘Rothko stresses that the contrast between abstract and representational painting is overdrawn, that all art has subject matter.’
    • ‘The landscape background of Elizabeth's portrait in particular is remarkably abstract, using strong colour and thick impasto.’
    • ‘Her work is abstract, using geometrical shapes subtly arranged and typically painted in soft colours.’
    • ‘Boxer is perhaps best known for richly textured abstract canvases, championed by critic Clement Greenberg.’
    • ‘Both legs and abstract shapes contribute to an almost painterly overall compositional effect.’
    • ‘This sort of abstract illusionism brings to mind certain early canvases by Bridget Riley.’
    • ‘Their plainly representational knotty, bark-covered surface contrasts with the immaterial, abstract shapes of the molding.’
    • ‘Her use of abstract effects in the service of representation is striking and makes her art complex.’
    • ‘She is represented by two unprepossessing abstract heads rendered in polychrome clay.’
    non-representational, non-realistic, non-pictorial, symbolic, impressionistic
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  • 1Consider something theoretically or separately from (something else)

    ‘to abstract science and religion from their historical context can lead to anachronism’
    • ‘It has spawned a generation who look back upon a single act, abstracted from its consequences, as determinative of salvation.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It shouldn't be abstracted from the debate about Europe's crisis.’
    • ‘But, while Elkins writes good staccato dialogue, he abstracts his characters from society.’
    • ‘It has been said, for example, that Aquinas is not really interested in the Trinity and the incarnation, that he is chiefly concerned to promote a notion of God abstracted from orthodox Christian teaching.’
    • ‘The soul forms in itself likenesses of things inasmuch as, through the light of agent intellect, forms abstracted from sensible objects are made actually intelligible, so as to be received in the possible intellect.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘By relating what Gandhi said to what he did and by examining instances of satyagraha led by others, this book abstracts from the Indian experiments those essential elements that constitute the Gandhian technique.’
    • ‘Reason however in the Edinburgh Enlightenment was still prior to experience: the people are a body ‘out there’; visible, and abstracted from action.’
    • ‘Surveys pick out contentious conclusions on divine unity and Trinity and Incarnation and other topoi, abstracted from the original warp and weft, as though the latter were mere packaging.’
    • ‘Succeeds because it's stylistically brilliant, and because it hooks the experience of being black in America into universal human experiences of rage and alienation without ever abstracting or moving away from the particulars of race.’
    • ‘From the mathematician's point of view, the advantage in abstracting a point from its diverse incarnations lies in the resulting generality.’
    • ‘You can know when a lake will freeze or a pot will boil by abstracting the big picture from all the little details.’
    • ‘This becomes abstracted from the original idea, possibly to become unrecognizable.’
  • 2Extract or remove (something)

    ‘applications to abstract more water from streams’
    • ‘This intermediate acts as a base to abstract protons from the Zn-H 2 O to produce the nucleophilic Zn-OH - species.’
    • ‘The County Council has contacted all group schemes abstracting from Lough Arrow in relation to their presence.’
    • ‘Not only is the self unable to bestow form from lived life, but also the objects themselves cannot receive it until they are abstracted from their lived-life utility.’
    • ‘The primary student concerns with Module 6, as with Module 4 and Module 5, were the time needed to complete the module and the frustration encountered in abstracting the necessary information from some of the computer systems.’
    • ‘The water has not been ‘predrunk’; it is not abstracted from a river and is as good as the best water you could find anywhere, even bottled.’
    • ‘If we abstract the technical from its social context and cultural foundations, technology appears to develop outside of society, following a trajectory of its own making.’
    • ‘When devising a model, one tries to ignore as much as possible about the phenomenon under consideration, abstracting from it only those features that are essential to understanding its behaviour.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Five of the lengthy series of lithographed modeles that Goupil aimed primarily at aspiring artists included motifs, mostly head studies, abstracted from Delaroche paintings.’
    • ‘If one wanted to abstract a general rule from the affair it might well be ‘to make a building look effeminate, trashy and like something out of Disneyworld, be sure to add banded pink stripes’.’
    • ‘A potential toxic bloom has been found on the lake from which drinking water supplies for much of the county, including the towns of Killarney and Tralee and surrounding countryside, are abstracted.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I knew that I needed to abstract what I wanted from the general confusion and the disorder of the scene.’
    • ‘The point is this - we cannot abstract ideas from the historical epoch in which they appeared.’
    • ‘Potato producers who abstract water from Pembrokeshire's rivers and streams could have their licences revoked by new European legislation.’
    • ‘Thus, once mixes are abstracted from their interpersonal context and reified within a commercial context, they lose much of their meaning.’
    • ‘In retrospect this appears so, but we have to remember that he abstracted his axioms from observation of the real world.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But I take comfort in our inability to delineate the ‘entire picture’ - at best we can abstract a stable whole from the flow of its parts, and that can never be ‘true’.’
    • ‘Greene was a poet, in the true sense of the word, and it is misleading and dangerous to abstract theological concepts from the work of a poet (a good poet), or from the drama of a concrete life.’
    extract, pump, tap, suck, withdraw, remove, take away, take out
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    1. 2.1Used euphemistically to indicate that someone has stolen something.
      ‘his pockets contained all he had been able to abstract from the flat’
      • ‘He was sentenced to six years for the production of cannabis and four years for abstracting electricity.’
      purloin, thieve, take, take for oneself, help oneself to, loot, pilfer, abscond with, run off with, appropriate, carry off, shoplift
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    2. 2.2Withdraw.
      ‘as our relationship deepened you seemed to abstract yourself’
      • ‘Rose found it hard to abstract herself from the lives of these women but she knew that she had to make that distance in order to tell their story without preaching her anger.’
      • ‘She abstracted herself from her inconvenient desire; she set herself at a distance from it and inspected it, as if it were a fungus of the spirit, asserting itself without permission.’
      • ‘So it's always the moment when I'm stuck in reality - I have to abstract myself from it.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I removed my ‘About’ page and I took a conscious decision to abstract myself (though of course I'm not naïve enough to think that you won't find my name if you really want to).’
      • ‘Even Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century decided that the mind must function primarily as intellect, abstracting itself from presence, to focus upon an ‘other’ that is external- ‘out there,’ whether that be called nature or God.’
      • ‘Bunting even botches an attempt by his wife to reconcile, abstracting himself from the romance of the moment in pursuit of a dry, theoretical point.’
      • ‘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's melancholic, but never chilly in the way that much electronica can be and doesn't ever abstract itself out of existence.’
      • ‘Indeed, its dramatic argument is that such a personality either abstracts itself out of existence or falls into contradiction and self-destructs.’
      leave, go, go away, go off, take one's leave, take oneself off, withdraw, absent oneself, say one's goodbyes, quit, make an exit, exit, break camp, decamp, retreat, beat a retreat, retire
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  • 3Make a written summary of (an article or book)

    ‘staff who abstract material for an online database’
    • ‘Costs were figured from a health service perspective by abstracting data from primary care case records.’
    • ‘Conversely, the same volunteer scholar (noted by his initials at the end of the record) abstracted another article more thoroughly.’
    • ‘This is the form in which the European Court abstracted the relevant part of Article 6 in paragraph of its decision.’
    • ‘Data were abstracted from each study and summarized.’
    • ‘Summarizing (also called abstracting or generalizing) occurs when a student produces a short statement that represents presented information or abstracts a general theme.’
    • ‘Final data were abstracted directly from the publications or estimated from data tabulations in the articles.’
    • ‘We abstracted all prescriptions written by the doctor for the treatment of schizophrenia and diabetes between the start of the study period and the index date.’
    • ‘It is abstracted and indexed in a wide array of major social science sources (as printed inside the front cover) but these are less commonly used by the biological sciences.’
    • ‘Our article was critically reviewed and abstracted by York University at the request of the British’
    • ‘We thank Michelle Grondin for her help in retrieving articles and abstracting data and Nancy Cleary for her administrative assistance.’
    • ‘The microfiche are abstracted, indexed, and published in a bimonthly periodical titled Declassified Documents Catalog.’
    • ‘Because ventilator data are not routinely abstracted into administrative data sets, community-based, longitudinal studies of changes in ALI therapy are not available.’
    • ‘Final data were abstracted directly from published articles or estimated from descriptive statistics presented in the articles.’
    • ‘As we abstracted data directly from original trial reports we minimised the effects of missing data and errors in transcription.’
    summarize, write a summary of, precis, abridge, condense, compress, shorten, cut down, abbreviate, synopsize
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  • 1A summary of the contents of a book, article, or speech.

    ‘an abstract of her speech’
    • ‘Dr. De Luca has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles, over 200 abstracts, a book, and holds 12 patents.’
    • ‘Furthermore, while abstracts of novel drug types were more likely to be presented at the meeting, they were no less likely than abstracts on non-novel drugs to be published.’
    • ‘Journal articles usually have abstracts, so you can draw on these for guidance on how to approach this task.’
    • ‘Click on the ‘enlarge image’ link to access a brief explanation and a link to the abstract for that article.’
    • ‘They spent many hours searching in commercial databases, looking for abstracts and full-text articles.’
    • ‘The present review includes a few large and several small trials published as abstracts or full articles in many journals.’
    • ‘Today we are beginning to publish abstracts of speeches made at the conference.’
    • ‘Over the intervening years, over 20 research papers have been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals or as research abstracts.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Clicking on the tag's link will display a list of all the article abstracts associated with that keyword.’
    • ‘Two independent reviewers selected the relevant abstracts and articles.’
    • ‘I found numerous abstracts and articles that contain good wound care as part of a general recommendation to practitioners, usually in the conclusion of the document.’
    • ‘Some of the non-English articles provided an English abstract, while others did not.’
    • ‘We reviewed abstracts and selected relevant articles.’
    • ‘He has published over 60 articles, book chapters and abstracts.’
    • ‘Content that we intend keeping free throughout this period includes abstracts of articles, rapid responses, and the Editor's Choice column.’
    • ‘In my view, it is first necessary to remove all abstracts, conference talks, proceedings, and other unrefereed publications from the listing.’
    • ‘An abstract of this article has been published.’
    • ‘We categorized the articles using the abstracts, and, when necessary, we asked the authors to classify their work correctly.’
    • ‘The dissertation title should appear on all five abstracts, although only one should identify the author and provide a current mailing address and daytime telephone number.’
    summary, synopsis, precis, résumé, outline, recapitulation, abridgement, condensation, digest, summation
    epitome, conspectus
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  • 2An abstract work of art.

    ‘a big unframed abstract’
    • ‘‘If she were a painting she'd have to be an abstract by Picasso because she has so many faces,’ he said.’
    • ‘Ranging from classic black and white shots featuring line and form to intriguing abstracts in colour, the exhibition charts Rob's photographic journey during this period.’
    • ‘He was surprised when the kids were more attracted to a showcase of Smithsonian abstracts than to a display of Mickey and Minnie art.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It is quality stuff, ranging from huge abstracts to delicate pencil drawings.’
    • ‘Quinn, Rolando and Campbell report that contemporary abstracts and landscapes are their biggest sellers.’
    • ‘He has purchased a wide range of artwork, including colorful, cartoonish prints and wild abstracts framed in austere black mouldings.’
    • ‘He is now experimenting with big abstracts in oils.’
    • ‘It was a figurative abstract of Pare Argile holding his son as a newly born baby.’
    • ‘The works include landscapes, still lifes, figuratives, abstracts and pastels, by approximately 75 artists.’
    • ‘The choice of painting marked a departure from the norm for Finnegan; up till then landscapes and abstracts were the only paintings in her home.’
    • ‘A good way to start is with the gallery devoted to his works on paper, which, aside from several highly covetable two-dimensional abstracts, includes dozens of sketches for major projects.’
    • ‘Gradually, the artist transited to pure abstracts, investing the image of nature with colours.’
    • ‘However, the customer wandered away to look at an abstract in big, bold colors.’
    • ‘Paint-Or-Die manages to represent a wide gamut of modern painting styles: colour-field painting, abstracts, figurative and representational styles are all here.’
    • ‘Equally, every painting, however realistic, is an abstract.’
    • ‘Logically, they are abstracts and yet they seem to be pictures of something concrete, something in, perhaps, a third realm which is neither our mind nor the world.’
    • ‘She tried working in a different, much looser style and even painted abstracts, but her paintings in this new vein were coolly received and after 1962 she did not exhibit her work.’
    • ‘Some were boring portraits but the abstracts caught my gaze.’
    • ‘The show consisted of figurative paintings, landscapes and abstracts.’


  • 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’
      • ‘Charter issues must be decided in the factual context before the court and not in the abstract or on hypothetical facts.’
      • ‘We do not say that there is anything about calling up special reasons, generally, in the abstract, as being a vice in legislation.’
      • ‘Such ideals cannot be lived in the abstract, they must be performed.’
      • ‘Corruption is generally held to be a vice, and viewed in the abstract, it is.’
      • ‘Mentoring is not effective or ineffective in the abstract, but has specific outcomes in specific circumstances.’
      • ‘I have a strong suspicion that generals are always better in the abstract than in reality.’
      • ‘And that's certainly a good idea, at least in the abstract and as a general matter.’
      • ‘And if it isn't going to hurt any specific marriage, it isn't going to hurt marriage in the abstract.’
      • ‘To solve a problem, you're therefore never very interested in Hindu law in the abstract.’
      • ‘Your paper is in favour of home rule in the abstract but never, it seems in the actual practice.’
      • ‘Still, people seem to be more fond of free speech in the abstract than in specific instances.’
      in principle, on paper, in the abstract, all things being equal, in an ideal world
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Middle English: from Latin abstractus, literally drawn away, past participle of abstrahere, from ab- from + trahere draw off.