[adjective ab-strakt, ab-strakt; noun ab-strakt; verb ab-strakt for 10–13, ab-strakt for 14]



verb (used with object)


    abstract away from, to omit from consideration.
    in the abstract, without reference to a specific object or instance; in theory: beauty in the abstract.

Origin of abstract

1400–50; late Middle English: withdrawn from worldly interests < Latin abstractus drawn off (past participle of abstrahere). See abs-, tract1
Related formsab·stract·er, nounab·stract·ly, adverbab·stract·ness, nounnon·ab·stract, adjective, nounnon·ab·stract·ly, adverbnon·ab·stract·ness, nouno·ver·ab·stract, verb (used with object), adjectivepre·ab·stract, adjectivesu·per·ab·stract, adjectivesu·per·ab·stract·ly, adverbsu·per·ab·stract·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for abstractly

theoretically, abstractly, conceivably, hypothetically

Examples from the Web for abstractly

Contemporary Examples of abstractly

Historical Examples of abstractly

  • Abstractly it is no more important than the other odd thousand we work with.

    The K-Factor

    Harry Harrison (AKA Henry Maxwell Dempsey)

  • We must distinguish between the abstractly typical and the universal.

  • "Abstractly, I of course agree with you," he said haltingly.

    Planet of the Damned

    Harry Harrison

  • Put thus broadly and abstractly, the answer must be negative.

    The Analysis of Mind

    Bertrand Russell

  • Our hero did not believe in brandy, abstractly or concretely.

    Little Bobtail

    Oliver Optic

British Dictionary definitions for abstractly


adjective (ˈæbstrækt)

having no reference to material objects or specific examples; not concrete
not applied or practical; theoretical
hard to understand; recondite; abstruse
denoting art characterized by geometric, formalized, or otherwise nonrepresentational qualities
defined in terms of its formal propertiesan abstract machine
philosophy (of an idea) functioning for some empiricists as the meaning of a general termthe word ``man'' does not name all men but the abstract idea of manhood

noun (ˈæbstrækt)

a condensed version of a piece of writing, speech, etc; summary
an abstract term or idea
an abstract painting, sculpture, etc
in the abstract without reference to specific circumstances or practical experience

verb (æbˈstrækt) (tr)

to think of (a quality or concept) generally without reference to a specific example; regard theoretically
to form (a general idea) by abstraction
(ˈæbstrækt) (also intr) to summarize or epitomize
to remove or extract
euphemistic to steal

Word Origin for abstract

C14: (in the sense: extracted): from Latin abstractus drawn off, removed from (something specific), from abs- ab- 1 + trahere to draw
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

Word Origin and History for abstractly

late 14c., "by itself, absolutely," from abstract (adj.) + -ly (2).



"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 divert," from ab(s)- "away" (see ab-) + trahere "draw" (see tract (n.1)).

Meaning "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 Pollack is from 1952, but the term itself had been used in the 1920s of Kandinsky and others.

Oswald 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]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

abstractly in Medicine


[ăb-străkt, ăbstrăkt′]


Considered apart from concrete existence.
Not applied or practical; theoretical.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.