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abstract
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as in: abstract thought Define
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
  • 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.
  • She struggles with abstract reasoning.

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  • he loved her only in the abstract—not in person
  • Abstract justice written down item by item on a brief—nothing to do with that black boy, you just like a neat brief.
    Harper Lee  --  Go Set a Watchman
  • These were abstract speculations for the first month of her stay, as she had little to say to Jem or me, and we saw her only at mealtimes and at night before we went to bed.
    Harper Lee  --  To Kill a Mockingbird
  • A year before Lee surrendered at Appomattox, a southern private noted in his diary that Confederate victory was certain because "we are fighting for our property and homes; they, for the flimsy and abstract idea that a negro is equal to an Anglo American."
    James M. McPherson  --  What They Fought For - 1861-1865
  • They weren’t rude; they were simply abstracted, like people who had lost a role.
    V.S. Naipaul  --  A Bend in the River
  • Certainly he had not been entirely unaware of the camps; perhaps, Sophie thought, the enormity of their existence had been for Nathan, as for so many Americans, part of a drama too far away, too abstract, too foreign (and thus too hard to comprehend) to register fully on the mind.
    William Styron  --  Sophie’s Choice
  • Of course we had heard about the Fascist, but they were still just an abstraction to us.
    Elie Wiesel  --  Night
  • But the thought is abstract and far less alarming than the current agonies of my body.
    Suzanne Collins  --  Catching Fire

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  • Peter Keating had never felt the need to formulate abstract convictions.
    Ayn Rand  --  The Fountainhead
  • So I speak to him and say to him: "Comrade, I did not want to kill you." If you jumped in here again, I would not do it, if you would be sensible too. But you were only an idea to me before, an abstraction that lived in my mind and called forth its appropriate response.
    Erich Maria Remarque  --  All Quiet on the Western Front
  • "The vision is still too abstract," Neferet told me quickly,
    P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast  --  Marked
  • That’s what I love about poetry. The more abstract, the better. The stuff where you’re not sure what the poet’s talking about. You may have an idea, but you can’t be sure.
    Jay Asher  --  Thirteen Reasons Why
  • What you call ’Western civilization.’ Do you think it’s just an abstract concept? No, it’s a living force.
    Rick Riordan  --  The Lightning Thief
  • In the beginning the idea seemed purely abstract, the word Canada printing itself out in my head; but after a time I could see particular shapes and images, the sorry details of my own future-a hotel room in Winnipeg, a...
    Tim O’Brien  --  The Things They Carried
  • abstract words such as glory, honor, courage, or hallow
    Ernest Hemingway  --  A Farewell to Arms
  • And even though I loved my sister had accepted her eccentricities I found it hard to listen to detailed descriptions, abstract ambitions, relevant observations, hers and mine.
    Ellen Hopkins  --  Crank
  • He wrote letters full of symbolic, abstract images — especially butterflies — evidently trying to express his trembling uncertainty and, probably, guilt.
    John Hersey  --  Hiroshima
  • Does not the life of a Negro girl mean as much in the eyes of the law as the life of a white girl? "Yes" perhaps, in the abstract.
    Richard Wright  --  Native Son
  • We throw up our hands at a problem phrased in an abstract way, but have no difficulty at all solving the same problem rephrased as a social dilemma.
    Malcolm Gladwell  --  The Tipping Point
  • Such considerations were not so abstract and academic as they seemed at first.
    Michael Crichton  --  The Andromeda Strain
  • To be less abstract—Let us suppose...
    Edgar Allan Poe  --  The Murders in the Rue Morgue
  • If he could have kissed her in abstract purity he would have done so.
    D.H. Lawrence  --  Sons and Lovers
  • Beyond the glass, however, there is no scenery, only an uncolored space like a pure abstract idea.
    Haruki Murakami  --  After Dark
  • A man who is the abstract of all faults
    William Shakespeare  --  Antony and Cleopatra
  • but he was ... not an abstract man, but a creature quite, quite separate from all others.
    Leo Tolstoy  --  The Death of Ivan Ilych
  • That is too abstract a problem for our present dilemma.
    Henry H. Neff  --  The Maelstrom
  • My notions on the subject were purely abstract, and I’d never given it serious thought.
    Albert Camus  --  The Plague
  • My desire might be to make this boy ... a worshipper of abstract and unifying God.
    Peter Shaffer  --  Equus
  • ...stipulates and brushes aside the concept that identity is a meaningless abstraction—is this the sword you actually used, in the everyday meaning, and don’t kid me, soldier.
    Robert A. Heinlein  --  Glory Road
  • I’m not religious but I get the feeling that it’s the simplest rituals, the ones that are integrated with the earth and its seasons, that are the most profound. It makes more sense to me than the more abstract forms of worship.
    Christina Garcia  --  Dreaming in Cuban
  • Mission, for Lieutenant Corson, was an abstract notion that took meaning in concrete situations, and it was this that most separated him from other officers. Lieutenant Corson did not order his men into the tunnels. He simply ordered the tunnels blown, or blew them himself, and he saw no incompatibility between this and his mission as a soldier.
    Tim O’Brien  --  Going After Cacciato
  • MARTHA: [comparing the subject of biology to that of math] ... Biology’s even better. It’s less . . . abstruse.
    GEORGE: Abstract.
    MARTHA: ABSTRUSE! In the sense of recondite. (Sticks her tongue out at GEORGE) Don’t you tell me words.
    Edward Albee  --  Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
  • She respected her husband in the same way as she respected the General Post Office, as something large, secure and fixed; and though she knew the small number of his talents she appreciated his abstract value as a male.
    James Joyce  --  Dubliners
  • ...mathematical reasoning is merely logic applied to observation upon form and quantity. The great error lies in supposing that even the truths of what is called pure algebra, are abstract or general truths. ... Mathematical axioms are not axioms of general truth.
    Edgar Allan Poe  --  The Purloined Letter
  • If he left the room for a minute she’d look around uneasily, and say: "Where’s Tom gone?" and wear the most abstracted expression until she saw him coming in the door.
    F. Scott Fitzgerald  --  The Great Gatsby
  • He examined his eternal matchbox, the lid of which said GUARANTEED: ONE MILLION LIGHTS IN THIS IGNITER, and began to strike the chemical match abstractedly, blow out, strike, blow out, strike, speak a few words, blow out.
    Ray Bradbury  --  Fahrenheit 451
  • His mind was concrete and moved with difficulty in regions of the abstract;
    W. Somerset Maugham  --  Of Human Bondage
  • "It was — simply amazing," she repeated abstractedly.
    F. Scott Fitzgerald  --  The Great Gatsby
  • "We are fighting for matters real and tangible …. our property and our homes," wrote a Texas private in 1864, "they for matters abstract and intangible."
    James M. McPherson  --  What They Fought For - 1861-1865
  • The concepts of southern nationalism, liberty, self-government, resistance to tyranny, and other ideological purposes I quoted earlier all have a rather abstract quality.
    James M. McPherson  --  What They Fought For - 1861-1865
  • Since business was conducted out of town, the reality of the drugs felt like a complete abstraction to me.
    Piper Kerman  --  Orange Is the New Black
  • Cristian tended to think in abstract, idealized solutions.
    Joshua Davis  --  Spare Parts
  • I pulled my attention back to Colum and found him gazing abstractedly at one of the wall hangings.
    Diana Gabaldon  --  Outlander
  • ’Good,’ said Syme abstractedly, without looking up from his strip of paper.
    George Orwell  --  1984
  • Princess Mary roused him from his abstraction by drawing his attention to her nephew who had entered the room.
    Leo Tolstoy  --  War and Peace
  • After a few minutes of abstraction, she did a rough sketch of the street scene as seen from her room, amazed at how easily it came.
    Nicholas Sparks  --  The Notebook
  • He had been writing slackly, and with intervals of abstraction, since the shots.
    H.G. Wells  --  The Invisible Man
  • That night Finny began to talk abstractedly about it, as though it were a venerable, entrenched institution of the Devon School.
    John Knowles  --  A Separate Peace
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as in: read the abstract Define
a summary; or to summarize -- especially academic writing
  • The abstract is free, but there is a fee to see the entire article.
  • A statistical abstract is published each year.

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  • She wondered if those were the same abstracts, files, and professional impedimenta on his desk that were there when she would run in, out of breath, desperate for an ice cream cone, and request a nickel.
    Harper Lee  --  Go Set a Watchman
  • Evidently it still appeared in the original Red Book, as it did in several of the copies and abstracts.
    J.R.R. Tolkien  --  The Fellowship of the Ring
  • they are the abstracts and brief chronicles of the time
    William Shakespeare  --  Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
  • I recognized neither language nor script—and the only sense I could abstract from it was...
    Robert A. Heinlein  --  Glory Road
  • As a moral declaration the old truism seems perfectly true, and yet because it abstracts, because it generalizes, I can’t believe it with my stomach.
    Tim O’Brien  --  The Things They Carried
  • ’Let me take that pipe,’ she said, cautiously advancing her hand and abstracting it from his mouth.
    Emily Bronte  --  Wuthering Heights
  • An obliging stranger, under pretence of compactly folding up my bank-notes for security’s sake, abstracts the notes and gives me nutshells; but what is his sleight of hand to mine, when I fold up my own nutshells and pass them on myself as notes!
    Charles Dickens  --  Great Expectations
  • That didn’t answer very well; and then I began to state cases for them, and make abstracts, and that sort of work.
    Charles Dickens  --  David Copperfield

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  • I realized all those times I’d felt people stare at me, their faces had been pictures, abstracts.
    Sarah Dessen  --  The Truth About Forever
  • My Lady carelessly and scornfully abstracts her attention.
    Charles Dickens  --  Bleak House
  • He rummaged through the chest, rearranging old legal documents, abstracts, bundles of letters, a packet of Confederate currency, peeling photograph albums.
    Pat Frank  --  Alas, Babylon
  • As it was they watched, benumbed, as their portrait pictures, the vital stuffs of their mortal greed, rancor, and poisonous guilt, the emerald abstracts of their self-blinded eyes, self-wounded mouths, self-trapped bodies melted one by one from this insignificant mound of snow.
    Ray Bradbury  --  Something Wicked This Way Comes
  • I sat in meditation two days and two nights, abstracting my mind; inbreathing and outbreathing in the required manner ….
    Rudyard Kipling  --  Kim
  • They say, when he was a little boy, he made an abstract of ’Hop o’ my Thumb,’ and he has been making abstracts ever since.
    George Eliot  --  Middlemarch
  • Just at the moment when I should have been abstracting the fifteen hundred dollars from the box under the tree, according to the original proposition, Bill was counting out two hundred and fifty dollars into Dorset’s hand.
    O. Henry  --  The Ransom of Red Chief
  • Much of his department’s work-the forwarding of statistical information, the abstracting of the world’s press, and the like-had continued automatically.
    Arthur C. Clarke  --  Childhood’s End
  • He stood a little apart, and it was not in the power of the multitude that pressed about him to make him yield an inch of the ground he had taken—that of abstracting himself discreetly while the two ladies performed their embraces.
    Henry James  --  The Portrait of a Lady - Volumes 1 & 2
  • Wild-looking abstracts, tornadoes of gyrating light-hackers who are hoping that Da5id will notice their talent, invite them inside, give them a job.
    Neal Stephenson  --  Snow Crash
  • He stood a little apart, and it was not in the power of the multitude that pressed about him to make him yield an inch of the ground he had taken—that of abstracting himself discreetly while the two ladies performed their embraces.
    Henry James  --  The Portrait of a Lady - Volume 2
  • "Then Nelly has not done me credit for what I trust I deserve," returned the single-minded Doctor, "for I am not of the phlebotomising school at all; greatly preferring the practice which purifies the blood instead of abstracting it."
    James Fenimore Cooper  --  The Prairie
  • It was impossible to make head or tail of it all, I decided, glancing with envy at the reader next door who was making the neatest abstracts, headed often with an A or a B or a C, while my own notebook rioted with the wildest scribble of contradictory jottings.
    Virginia Woolf  --  A Room of One’s Own
  • …down no road but it stretches and waits for you, however long but it stretches and waits for you, To see no being, not God’s or any, but you also go thither, To see no possession but you may possess it, enjoying all without labor or purchase, abstracting the feast yet not abstracting one particle of it, To take the best of the farmer’s farm and the rich man’s elegant villa, and the chaste blessings of the well-married couple, and the fruits of orchards and flowers of gardens, To take…
    Walt Whitman  --  Leaves of Grass
  • …and waits for you, however long but it stretches and waits for you, To see no being, not God’s or any, but you also go thither, To see no possession but you may possess it, enjoying all without labor or purchase, abstracting the feast yet not abstracting one particle of it, To take the best of the farmer’s farm and the rich man’s elegant villa, and the chaste blessings of the well-married couple, and the fruits of orchards and flowers of gardens, To take to your use out of the compact…
    Walt Whitman  --  Leaves of Grass
  • I went round by the garden, and laid wait for the messenger; who fought valorously to defend his trust, and we spilt the milk between us; but I succeeded in abstracting the epistle; and, threatening serious consequences if he did not look sharp home, I remained under the wall and perused Miss Cathy’s affectionate composition.
    Emily Bronte  --  Wuthering Heights
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as in: abstract art Define
not representing or imitating external reality or the objects of nature
  • She is an abstract painter.
  • The room is decorated with abstract art.

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  • It’s just another piece of the puzzle she is. But the more she gives me, the more abstract she gets. It’s like pieces to three different puzzles. You try to put them together but they never fit, and when you force them, the picture comes out all wrong.
    Katja Millay  --  The Sea of Tranquility
  • ...a full cotton skirt of a dull blue-green with abstract black swirls and squares on it,
    Margaret Atwood  --  Cat’s Eye
  • ...several rusted metal sculptures—one an abstract, plated mammoth,
    Veronica Roth  --  Divergent
  • Tally remembered growing up surrounded by Sol’s woodwork, abstract shapes fashioned from fallen branches she would collect from parks as a littlie.
    Scott Westerfeld  --  Uglies
  • And at the museums, have you ever been? All abstract. That’s all there is now. My uncle says it was different once. A long time back sometimes pictures said things or even showed people.
    Ray Bradbury  --  Fahrenheit 451
  • NICK: (Indicating the abstract painting) Who . . . who did the . . . ?
    Edward Albee  --  Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
  • Also there was art everywhere:  abstract paintings on the walls, several ceramic pieces, and two of Wes’s smaller sculptures on display on either side of the fireplace.
    Sarah Dessen  --  The Truth About Forever
  • It crawled and the colors were wrong, as jarring as some abstract paintings.
    Robert A. Heinlein  --  Glory Road

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  • Abstract painting is more up my alley.
    Christina Garcia  --  Dreaming in Cuban
  • They have abstract art earrings, hair arrangements.
    Margaret Atwood  --  Cat’s Eye
  • ...the musical wall lit and all the coloured patterns running up and down, but it’s only colour and all abstract.
    Ray Bradbury  --  Fahrenheit 451
  • On its surface are arranged, seemingly at random, several bright pink objects not unlike those to be found in abstract paintings.
    Margaret Atwood  --  Cat’s Eye
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  • It was abad idea to rustle or fidget during these pauses: Aunt Lydia might look abstracted but she was aware of every twitch.
    Margaret Atwood  --  The Handmaid’s Tale
  • "It was like an abstract painting," Louie said later.
    Laura Hillenbrand  --  Unbroken

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  • A flock of starlings broke from the trees, and Amanda watched as they veered overhead, changing direction, tracing abstract patterns in the sky.
    Nicholas Sparks  --  The Best of Me
  • He would grow abstracted and silent, and a faraway look would come into his eyes, and the building was there before him—every stone.
    Erik Larson  --  The Devil in the White City
  • These thoughts tumble in my mind, and I close my eyes briefly as I realize what this means, not in abstract, but for me, the girl in the green dress.
    Ally Condie  --  Matched
  • Abstract ideas about decency and goodwill, that was all: merely abstract ideas.
    Doris Lessing  --  The Grass is Singing
  • Of all things, there had to be something better to do than ruin our evening by inviting Patch, albeit abstractly, into it.
    Becca Fitzpatrick  --  Hush, Hush
  • For my father, after all, it was an abstract horror; for my mother—who, like Ruth, had lost friends and family—it was deeply personal.
    Nicholas Sparks  --  The Longest Ride
  • It was like living in a 3-D abstract painting.
    Rick Yancey  --  The 5th Wave
  • I had begun to like them, in an abstract sort of way, and wished to know them better.
    Farley Mowat  --  Never Cry Wolf

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  • Even John Holbrook’s farewells were abstracted.
    Elizabeth George Speare  --  The Witch of Blackbird Pond
  • Indistinct voices floated in from neighboring apartments: abstract thumps, somebody opening and shutting cabinets.
    Donna Tartt  --  The Goldfinch
  • Abstract your mind from the subject at present: you are too prone to covet your neighbour’s goods; remember THIS neighbour’s goods are mine.’
    Emily Bronte  --  Wuthering Heights
  • And yet the rage that one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp.
    George Orwell  --  1984
  • They say, when he was a little boy, he made an abstract of ’Hop o’ my Thumb,’ and he has been making abstracts ever since.
    George Eliot  --  Middlemarch
  • There are some other articles; but these are the most important, of which I have read you an abstract.
    Jonathan Swift  --  Gulliver’s Travels
  • It was evident that Prince Andrew was not interested in such abstract conversation.
    Leo Tolstoy  --  War and Peace
  • It was Wisdom in the abstract facing Folly in the concrete.
    Thomas Hardy  --  Far from the Madding Crowd
  • We have lost the abstract sense of beauty.
    Oscar Wilde  --  The Picture of Dorian Gray
  • But I found it difficult to get to work upon my abstract investigations.
    H.G. Wells  --  The War of the Worlds
  • Marilla was not to be drawn from the safe concrete into dubious paths of the abstract.
    Lucy Maud Montgomery  --  Anne Of Green Gables
  • Nat Hicks, Ella Stowbody, and Dave Dyer were abstracted, fingers and lips slightly moving.
    Sinclair Lewis  --  Main Street
  • Miss Taggart, you are using an abstract term, when we are dealing with a matter of practical reality.
    Ayn Rand  --  Atlas Shrugged
  • One can love one’s neighbors in the abstract, or even at a distance, but at close quarters it’s almost impossible.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky  --  The Brothers Karamazov
  • He turned towards her frowning, as if she had disturbed him in some abstract quest.
    E.M. Forster  --  A Room With A View
  • A short abstract of its contents will show its similarity to the meeting of King Richard and Friar Tuck.
    Sir Walter Scott  --  Ivanhoe
  • Now, Henry, are we going to have another one of those abstract discussions?
    Michael Crichton  --  Jurassic Park
  • A water-clerk need not pass an examination in anything under the sun, but he must have Ability in the abstract and demonstrate it practically.
    Joseph Conrad  --  Lord Jim
  • He did his duty, but he did it with an abstracted mind.
    W. Somerset Maugham  --  Of Human Bondage
  • If it worked, neither he nor Professor Godbole would be the least advantaged, but the attempt enthralled him and was akin to abstract thought.
    E.M. Forster  --  A Passage to India
  • Plato’s conception was of eternal and immutable patterns, spiritual and abstract in their nature that all things are fashioned after.
    Jostein Gaarder  --  Sophie’s World
  • This was my first conscious perception of an abstract idea.
    Helen Keller  --  Story of My Life
  • Three equal triangles, abstract renditions of chalet roofs in a valley of snow so deep the lower stories were obscured.
    Robert Ludlum  --  The Bourne Identity
  • Danny hesitated, looking at his father’s abstracted face.
    Stephen King  --  The Shining
  • But Amory knew that nothing in the abstract, no theory or generality, ever moved Rahill until he stubbed his toe upon the concrete minutiae of it.
    F. Scott Fitzgerald  --  This Side of Paradise
  • It should not be by their architecture, but why not even by their power of abstract thought, that nations should seek to commemorate themselves?
    Henry David Thoreau  --  Walden
  • It was different from considering murder in the abstract, reading those names.
    Stephenie Meyer  --  Eclipse
  • Um …. actually it sounds a bit abstract.
    Ted Dekker  --  Black: The Birth of Evil
  • It’s a measure of abstract reasoning skills.
    Malcolm Gladwell  --  Outliers
  • The IAT is more than just an abstract measure of attitudes.
    Malcolm Gladwell  --  Blink
  • I had an abstract sense of the physical danger in what we were planning–wandering out into the heat with no backup plan, no way to return.
    Stephenie Meyer  --  The Host
  • You can think that you are not safe and may die, and you can think of something very abstract and remote.
    Anne Rice  --  Interview with the Vampire
  • In a way he was experiencing the same sort of anger scientific people have sometimes about abstract art, or at least used to have.
    Robert M. Pirsig  --  Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
  • Our peripheral existence, however, was something we had learned to deal with—probably because it was abstract.
    Toni Morrison  --  The Bluest Eye
  • Yet he seemed not so much sulky as abstracted.
    Edgar Allan Poe  --  The Gold-Bug
  • ’I have already explained to you that I don’t believe in anything; and what is science—science in the abstract?
    Ivan Turgenev  --  Fathers and Sons
  • Let’s hope it will, she said, in a peculiarly abstracted voice.
    James Agee  --  A Death in the Family
  • Please provide an abstract.
    Randy Pausch  --  The Last Lecture
  • On the tube are gold circles crossed with seven red lines each-"joy" ideographs in abstract.
    Maxine Hong Kingston  --  The Woman Warrior
  • Lara worked well at school, not because she had an abstract love of learning but because only the best pupils were given scholarships.
    Boris Pasternak  --  Doctor Zhivago
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