abstraction

noun
ab·​strac·​tion | \ ab-ˈstrak-shən How to pronounce abstraction (audio) , əb-\

Definition of abstraction

1a : the act or process of abstracting : the state of being abstracted
b : an abstract idea or term
2 : absence of mind or preoccupation
3 : abstract quality or character
4a : an abstract composition or creation in art

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Other Words from abstraction

abstractional \ -​shnəl How to pronounce abstractional (audio) , -​shə-​nᵊl \ adjective
abstractive \ ab-​ˈstrak-​tiv How to pronounce abstractive (audio) , ˈab-​ˌ \ adjective

Did You Know?

From its roots, abstraction should mean basically "something pulled or drawn away". So abstract art is art that has moved away from painting objects of the ordinary physical world in order to show something beyond it. Theories are often abstractions; so a theory about economics, for instance, may "pull back" to take a broad view that somehow explains all of economics (but maybe doesn't end up explaining any of it very successfully). An abstract of a medical or scientific article is a one-paragraph summary of its contents—that is, the basic findings "pulled out" of the article.

Examples of abstraction in a Sentence

abstraction of data from hospital records “Beauty” and “truth” are abstractions. She gazed out the window in abstraction.
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Recent Examples on the Web

For his part, Fortner smoothly interjected a few bars of stride piano and some Thelonious Monk-like abstractions. Dan Emerson, Twin Cities, "Cecile McLorin Salvant gives a nimble performance at the Dakota," 19 June 2019 Each of Burr’s geometric abstractions is a series of wooden boards — some black, some white, some natural color — hinged together. Susan Dunne, courant.com, "Two very different approaches to LGBTQ history at Atheneum, CHS," 18 June 2019 For the nations of Latvia and Estonia, nestled between Russia and the Baltic Sea and with large ethnic Russian populations, NATO is no abstraction. Marc Santora, New York Times, "Trump Derides NATO as ‘Obsolete.’ Baltic Nations See It Much Differently.," 10 July 2018 First glimpsed through a window while lifting weights, Sparsholt is an enticing abstraction: a figure of beguiling mystery and a near-universal object of desire. Priscilla Gilman, BostonGlobe.com, "An English political scandal and gay lives over decades," 9 Mar. 2018 The play is grounded in abstractions: the dueling monologues, the basically empty stage, the occasional sound effects, the framing of some scenes as silhouettes. Christopher Arnott, courant.com, "Review: 'Actually’ at TheaterWorks a thought-provoking, heavy drama of a hookup gone bad," 3 June 2019 More recently, Serra’s non-sculptural work has shifted to Rothko-esque abstractions like the one below. Russell Brandom, The Verge, "Celebrated artist Richard Serra has been making Goatses his entire career," 23 Sep. 2018 My friend David Schutter painted the large work on the left, an abstraction of a French landscape. Theaster Gates, WSJ, "Conceptual Artist Theaster Gates’s Favorite Things Celebrate the Artists He Admires," 8 Oct. 2018 They got lost in a maze of ribbons suspended from the ceiling and meandered through abstractions of a kitchen, bathroom, and office. Diana Budds, Curbed, "Play it forward," 18 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'abstraction.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of abstraction

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for abstraction

borrowed from Middle French & Late Latin; Middle French, "abduction (of a woman), removal, extraction (of a foreign body from a wound), (in philosophy) process by which the mind is able to form universal representations of the properties of distinct objects," borrowed from Late Latin abstractiōn-, abstractiō, from Latin abstrac- (variant stem of abstrahere "to remove forcibly") + -tiōn-, -tiō, suffix of action nouns — more at abstract entry 1

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Statistics for abstraction

Last Updated

24 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for abstraction

The first known use of abstraction was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for abstraction

abstraction

noun

English Language Learners Definition of abstraction

: the act of obtaining or removing something from a source : the act of abstracting something
formal : a general idea or quality rather than an actual person, object, or event : an abstract idea or quality
somewhat formal : the state of someone who is not paying attention to what is happening or being said : an abstracted state

abstraction

noun
ab·​strac·​tion | \ ab-ˈstrak-shən How to pronounce abstraction (audio) \

Kids Definition of abstraction

1 : the act of summarizing : the state of being summarized
2 : a thought or thoughts about general qualities or ideas rather than people or things

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Comments on abstraction

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