Definition of abstract adjective from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//ˈæbstrækt//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈæbstrækt//
    Describing art, Styles of art
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  1. 1based on general ideas and not on any particular real person, thing or situation abstract knowledge/principles The research shows that pre-school children are capable of thinking in abstract terms. compare concrete
  2. 2existing in thought or as an idea but not having a physical reality We may talk of beautiful things but beauty itself is abstract.
  3. 3(of art) not representing people or things in a realistic way, but expressing the artist’s ideas about them the work of American abstract expressionists like Mark Rothko compare figurative (2), representational See related entries: Describing art, Styles of art
  4. Word OriginMiddle English: from Latin abstractus, literally ‘drawn away’, past participle of abstrahere, from ab- ‘from’ + trahere ‘draw off’.Extra examples Abstract principles are no good in this particular situation. All human beings are capable of thinking in abstract terms. Freedom is more than a purely abstract notion. Mathematics is an extremely abstract discipline. Some of the ideas that their legal system is based on are incredibly abstract.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: abstract