[ ab-strak-shuhn ]
See synonyms for abstraction on Thesaurus.com
  1. an abstract or general idea or term.

  2. the act of considering something as a general quality or characteristic, apart from concrete realities, specific objects, or actual instances.

  1. an impractical idea; something visionary and unrealistic.

  2. the act of taking away or separating; withdrawal: The sensation of cold is due to the abstraction of heat from our bodies.

  3. secret removal, especially theft.

  4. absent-mindedness; inattention; mental absorption.

  5. Fine Arts.

    • the abstract qualities or characteristics of a work of art.

    • a work of art, especially a nonrepresentational one, stressing formal relationships.

Origin of abstraction

First recorded in 1540–50; from Late Latin abstractiōn-, stem of abstractiō “separation,” literally, “a drawing off,” from abstract(us) “drawn off” + -iō noun suffix; see abstract -ion

Other words from abstraction

  • ab·strac·tion·al, adjective

Words Nearby abstraction

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use abstraction in a sentence

  • Anemia in these cases is probably due both to toxins and to abstraction of blood.

    A Manual of Clinical Diagnosis | James Campbell Todd
  • Recovering from his fit of abstraction, Pyne, casting a final keen glance at the sleeper, walked out of the room.

    Dope | Sax Rohmer
  • Never affect a foolish reserve in a mixed company, keeping aloof from others as if in a state of mental abstraction.

  • In their abstraction they had taken the long way home, instead of cutting directly across the ranch in the direction of the house.

  • But in this abstraction from all outward things, his worldly affairs went ever lower down.

    Ruth | Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell

British Dictionary definitions for abstraction


/ (æbˈstrækʃən) /

  1. absence of mind; preoccupation

  2. the process of formulating generalized ideas or concepts by extracting common qualities from specific examples

  1. an idea or concept formulated in this way: good and evil are abstractions

  2. logic an operator that forms a class name or predicate from any given expression: See also lambda calculus

  3. an abstract painting, sculpture, etc

  4. the act of withdrawing or removing

Derived forms of abstraction

  • abstractive, adjective
  • abstractively, adverb

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012