abstract noun

Save This Word!

noun Grammar.
a noun denoting something immaterial and abstract, as rest, dread, or transportation.
a noun formed with a suffix that imparts such a meaning, as kindness.


Click for a side-by-side comparison of meanings. Use the word comparison feature to learn the differences between similar and commonly confused words.
Were you ready for a quiz on this topic? Well, here it is! See how well you can differentiate between the uses of "was" vs. "were" in this quiz.
Question 1 of 7
“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.
Compare concrete noun.

Origin of abstract noun

First recorded in 1350–1400
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What is an abstract noun?

An abstract noun is a type of noun that represents immaterial or abstract items, that is, things that we can’t actually interact with using our five senses. Abstract nouns are things like ideas, concepts, feelings, and traits.

For example, fear is an abstract noun that refers to a feeling. Although you might be able to see the thing you feel fear about, like a spider, you can’t see or touch the fear itself.

Other examples of abstract nouns are justice and mercy. You can’t use your senses to interact with justice and mercy, but you likely know them when they happen. Abstract nouns help us talk about complicated things.

Abstract nouns are one of the two major categories of nouns. The other one is concrete nouns, which we use for material things, such as puppy, cheese, or Peru. Some words are concrete nouns even if they’re invisible or tasteless. For example, the word wind is a concrete noun because you can feel it on your skin—it’s a real-world thing, as opposed to an abstract concept.

Many verbs and adjectives become abstract nouns when they’re combined with a suffix that creates a noun, such as ness or ion. For example, loneliness comes from the adjective lonely and education comes from the verb educate.

What are abstract nouns important?

The first records of the term abstract noun come from the 1350s. It is a combination of the word noun, a term for the words we use to describe people, places, things, and ideas, and the adjective abstract, which means something that isn’t physical.

Because abstract nouns represent abstract things, they are often the hardest words to define or have the most complicated meanings. You can probably describe what a tree or basketball is in one or two sentences. But trying to explain cooperation or love is much more difficult.

Did you know ... ?

Some verbs can be used as an abstract noun without adding a suffix, such as hate, exercise, and orbit.

What are real-life examples of abstract nouns?

Abstract nouns include things like ideas, concepts, feelings, and traits. They’re important in the discussion of complicated topics.


What other words are related to abstract noun?

Quiz yourself!

Which of the following words is NOT an abstract noun?

A. peace
B. shyness
C. fish
D. time

How to use abstract noun in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for abstract noun

abstract noun

a noun that refers to an abstract concept, as for example kindnessCompare concrete noun
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