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[ab-strak-shuh n] /æbˈstræk ʃən/
an abstract or general idea or term.
the act of considering something as a general quality or characteristic, apart from concrete realities, specific objects, or actual instances.
an impractical idea; something visionary and unrealistic.
the act of taking away or separating; withdrawal:
The sensation of cold is due to the abstraction of heat from our bodies.
secret removal, especially theft.
absent-mindedness; inattention; mental absorption.
Fine Arts.
  1. the abstract qualities or characteristics of a work of art.
  2. a work of art, especially a nonrepresentational one, stressing formal relationships.
1540-50; < Late Latin abstractiōn- (stem of abstractiō) separation. See abstract, -ion
Related forms
abstractional, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for abstraction
  • The level of abstraction of these head-of-state types amazes me.
  • abstraction is inductive thought and involves the construction of options.
  • The abstraction is done on a representative sample of the state.
  • Dove, an abstraction pioneer, set a particularly encouraging example.
  • But he says no amount of academic abstraction will blind him to the qualities that make folklore so fascinating.
  • The abstraction says something about the individual.
  • His gargantuan effort was no less than a triumph of theory, reason and abstraction.
  • He chose abstraction when the taste in this country ran strongly toward representational art.
  • Instead, they'll view a visualized abstraction of what's happening.
  • The marriage lasted three years, during which time she began to experiment with abstraction.
British Dictionary definitions for abstraction


absence of mind; preoccupation
the process of formulating generalized ideas or concepts by extracting common qualities from specific examples
an idea or concept formulated in this way: good and evil are abstractions
(logic) an operator that forms a class name or predicate from any given expression See also lambda calculus
an abstract painting, sculpture, etc
the act of withdrawing or removing
Derived Forms
abstractive, adjective
abstractively, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for abstraction

c.1400, "withdrawal from worldly affairs, asceticism," from Old French abstraction (14c.), from Latin abstractionem (nominative abstractio), noun of action from past participle stem of abstrahere (see abstract (adj.)). Meaning "idea of something that has no actual existence" is from 1640s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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abstraction in Medicine

abstraction ab·strac·tion (āb-strāk'shən, əb-)

  1. Distillation or separation of the volatile constituents of a substance.

  2. Exclusive mental concentration; absent-mindedness.

  3. A malocclusion in which the teeth or associated structures are lower than their normal occlusal plane.

  4. The selection of a certain aspect of a concept from the whole.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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abstraction in Technology

1. Generalisation; ignoring or hiding details to capture some kind of commonality between different instances. Examples are abstract data types (the representation details are hidden), abstract syntax (the details of the concrete syntax are ignored), abstract interpretation (details are ignored to analyse specific properties).
2. Parameterisation, making something a function of something else. Examples are lambda abstractions (making a term into a function of some variable), higher-order functions (parameters are functions), bracket abstraction (making a term into a function of a variable).
Opposite of concretisation.
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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