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as in:  abstract thought

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.
  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
 Mark word for later review on this computer
abstract abstraction abstracted abstractedly abstractly abstractness abstractedness
Abstract has many reasonably common, but highly diverse senses. Accordingly, it is generally recommended that you just learn the sense (or senses) that currently interest you.
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  • 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.
  • 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

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  • 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
  • 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
  • Peter Keating had never felt the need to formulate abstract convictions.
    Ayn Rand  --  The Fountainhead

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  • 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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Associated words [difficulty]:   abstract [2]
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Most commonly used in these subjects:   Philosophy, Logic & Reasoning, Medicine
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