of a concept or idea not associated with any specific instance
or more rarely:
describing someone as distracted -- thinking about something outside of the immediate conversation or circumstances
"Yes," said the old man abstractedly.
"Aye!" said the old man, coming slowly out of his abstraction.
He has shown neither patience nor impatience, nor attention nor abstraction.
Almost frightened by coming upon him so unexpectedly, I stood still for a moment and should have retired without speaking had he not, in again passing his hand abstractedly through his hair, seen me and started.
Now and then, when they pass a police-constable on his beat, Mr. Snagsby notices that both the constable and his guide fall into a deep abstraction as they come towards each other, and appear entirely to overlook each other, and to gaze into space.
Whereas now I do declare to you that he becomes to me the embodiment of the suit; that in place of its being an abstraction, it is John Jarndyce; that the more I suffer, the more indignant I am with him; that every new delay and every new disappointment is only a new injury from John Jarndyce’s hand."
There are no more uses of "abstract" identified with this meaning, but check unspecified meaning below.
Show samples from other sources
We all agree that we want what’s "best for the country", but that is an abstract concept and we cannot agree on which specific laws should be passed.
"Oh, you ridiculous child!" observed Mrs. Jellyby with an abstracted air as she looked over the dispatch last opened; "what a goose you are!"
Like man in the abstract, he is here to-day and gone to-morrow—but, very unlike man indeed, he is here again the next day.
The abstracted manner in which Mrs. Jellyby would deliver herself up to having this attire tried on by the dressmaker, and the sweetness with which she would then observe to me how sorry she was that I had not turned my thoughts to Africa, were consistent with the rest of her behaviour.
I found Richard thin and languid, slovenly in his dress, abstracted in his manner, forcing his spirits now and then, and at other intervals relapsing into a dull thoughtfulness.