Use the adjective abstract for something that is not a material object or is general and not based on specific examples.

Abstract is from a Latin word meaning “pulled away, detached,” and the basic idea is of something detached from physical, or concrete, reality. It is frequently used of ideas, meaning that they don’t have a clear applicability to real life, and of art, meaning that it doesn’t pictorially represent reality. It is also used as a noun, especially in the phrase “in the abstract” (a joke has a person laying down a new sidewalk saying “I like little boys in the abstract, but not in the concrete”), and as a verb (accented on the second syllable), meaning “to remove.”

Definitions of abstract
  1. adjective

    existing only in the mind; separated from embodiment

    abstract words like `truth’ and `justice’”

    conceptional, ideational, notional

    being of the nature of a notion or concept

    being or characterized by concepts or their formation

    constituting or existing only in the form of an idea or mental image or conception
    ideologic, ideological

    concerned with or suggestive of ideas

    of or relating to a style of art in which objects do not resemble those known in physical nature
    impalpable, intangible

    incapable of being perceived by the senses especially the sense of touch
    see moresee less



    capable of being perceived by the senses; not abstract or imaginary

    belonging to immediate experience of actual things or events
    real, tangible

    capable of being treated as fact

    concerned with actual use or practice
    existent, real

    being or occurring in fact or actuality; having verified existence; not illusory
    tangible, touchable

    perceptible by the senses especially the sense of touch
    show more antonyms…

  2. adjective

    not representing or imitating external reality or the objects of nature

    “a large
    abstract painting”
    abstractionist, nonfigurative, nonobjective


    of or relating to a style of art in which objects do not resemble those known in physical nature
  3. adjective

    dealing with a subject in the abstract without practical purpose or intention

    abstract reasoning”
    abstract science”


    concerned with theories rather than their practical applications
  4. verb

    consider a concept without thinking of a specific example; consider abstractly or theoretically

    see moresee less

    type of:

    consider, reckon, regard, see, view

    deem to be

  5. verb

    consider apart from a particular case or instance

    abstract away from this particular example”
    see moresee less

    type of:

    consider, deal, look at, take

    take into consideration for exemplifying purposes

  6. noun

    a concept or idea not associated with any specific instance

    “he loved her only in the
    abstract–not in person”
    see moresee less


    show 24 types…
    hide 24 types…

    an abstract idea of that which is due to a person or governmental body by law or tradition or nature

    something that is conceived or that exists independently and not in relation to other things; something that does not depend on anything else and is beyond human control; something that is not relative

    a personified abstraction that teaches

    a special abstraction

    the right to obtain or make use of or take advantage of something (as services or membership)

    the right in English law of presenting a nominee to a vacant ecclesiastical benefice

    the exclusive right of a country to control the air traffic within its borders
    claim, title

    an informal right to something

    that which is deserved or owed
    access, accession, admission, admittance, entree

    the right to enter

    the parliamentary right to address an assembly

    a right or privilege that has been granted
    human right

    (law) any basic right or freedom to which all human beings are entitled and in whose exercise a government may not interfere (including rights to life and liberty as well as freedom of thought and expression and equality before the law)
    legal right

    a right based in law
    pre-emption, preemption

    the right to purchase something in advance of others
    exclusive right, perquisite, prerogative, privilege

    a right reserved exclusively by a particular person or group (especially a hereditary or official right)

    (law) the right to refuse to divulge information obtained in a confidential relationship

    the right of being represented by delegates who have a voice in some legislative body
    right of action

    the legal right to sue
    right of search

    the right of a belligerent to stop neutral ships on the high seas in wartime and search them
    right of way

    the right of one vehicle or vessel to take precedence over another
    states’ rights

    the rights conceded to the states by the United States constitution
    voting right

    the right to vote; especially the right of a common shareholder to vote in person or by proxy on the affairs of a company
    riparian right, water right

    right of access to water
    type of:

    concept, conception, construct

    an abstract or general idea inferred or derived from specific instances

  7. noun

    a sketchy summary of the main points of an argument or theory

    outline, precis, synopsis
    see moresee less



    a condensed written summary or abstract

    a short synopsis

    a brief abstract (as of an article or book)
    type of:

    sum-up, summary

    a brief statement that presents the main points in a concise form

  8. verb

    give an abstract (of)

    see moresee less

    type of:

    resume, sum up, summarise, summarize

    give a summary (of)

  9. verb

    make off with belongings of others

    cabbage, filch, hook, lift, nobble, pilfer, pinch, purloin, snarf, sneak, swipe
    see moresee less

    type of:


    take without the owner’s consent

Word Family