abstracted +‎ -ly


  • (US) IPA(key): /əbˈstɹæk.tɪd.li/
  • (US) IPA(key): /æbˈstɹæk.tɪd.li/, /əbˈstɹæk.tɪd.li/
  • Audio (US):(file)



abstractedly (comparative more abstractedly, superlative most abstractedly)

  1. In an abstracted manner; separately; in the abstract. [From early 17th c.][1]
    • 1610, Edmund Bolton, chapter 15, in The Elements of Armories[1], London: George Eld, page 89:
      Doubtlesse, in the Idaea, or mentall shape before it come as it were into act, by beeing painted, cut, or carued, those terminating, and truly Mathematical lines, abstractedly considered, are manifest, adhering (or inhering rather) without any possibility of separation from the conceaued Image.
    • a. 1678 (date written), Isaac Barrow, “An Exposition of the Decalogue. Honour Thy Father, and Thy Mother.”, in A Brief Exposition of the Lord’s Prayer and the Decalogue. [], London: [] M[iles] Flesher, for Brabazon Aylmer, [], published 1681, →OCLC, page 164:
      [I]t is abundant ſatisfaction to them if they ſee their children do vvell; their chief delight and contentment is in their childrens good abſolutely and abſtractedly, vvithout indirect regards to their ovvn advantage.
    • 1734, [George Berkeley], “Section L [Occasion of this Address. Conclusion. Queries.]”, in The Analyst; or, A Discourse Addressed to an Infidel Mathematician. [], London: [] J[acob] Tonson [], →OCLC, page 77:
      Qu[estion] 8. VVhether the Notions of abſolute Time, abſolute Place, and abſolute Motion be not moſt abſtractedly Metaphyſical? VVhether it be poſſible for us to meaſure, compute, or knovv them?
    • 1791, James Boswell, quoting Samuel Johnson, “[1769]”, in The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. [], volume I, London: [] Henry Baldwin, for Charles Dilly, [], →OCLC, page 311:
      You remember the gentleman in “The Spectator,” who had a commission of lunacy taken out against him for his extreme singularity, such as never wearing a wig, but a night-cap. Now, Sir, abstractedly, the night-cap was best; but, relatively, the advantage was overbalanced by his making the boys run after him.
    • 1852, John Pollard Seddon, chapter 3, in Progress in Art and Architecture[2], London: David Bogue, page 38:
      [] as the head of a beast is to be placed only upon its shoulders, so neither is a plant, however abstractedly treated, to be placed root uppermost []
  2. With absence of mind [From the early 19th century.].
    • 1806, Isaac D'Israeli, chapter 38, in Flim-Flams![3], 2nd edition, volume 2, London: John Murray, page 219:
      Leaning abstractedly over a hogshead of tallow, her dark dishevelled tresses waved in opposite directions, and a Muse (as she was) appeared to vulgar eyes, a Fury!
    • 1860, Isaac Taylor, “Essay V. Epidemic Whims.”, in Ultimate Civilization and Other Essays, London: Bell and Daldy [], →OCLC, section I, page 257:
      He is a man of the meditative claſs:—he walks the ſtreets abſtractedly:—as he goes he digeſts enterpriſes, fraught with world-wide benefits.
    • 1874, Thomas Hardy, chapter XII, in Far from the Madding Crowd. [], volumes (please specify |volume=I or II), London: Smith, Elder & Co., [], →OCLC:
      The farmer had never turned his head once, but with eyes fixed on the most advanced point along the road, passed as unconsciously and abstractedly as if Bathsheba and her charms were thin air.
    • 1935, Alan Sullivan, chapter 10, in The Great Divide[4], London: Lovat Dickson & Thompson:
      In Montreal, George Stephen was also thinking about money while he walked in sober mood from the Bank to the Canadian Pacific offices; one of the best-known figures in the city [] his passage along St. James Street was noted by many, and he nodded abstractedly to innumerable acquaintances.
    • 2011, Alan Hollinghurst, The Stranger’s Child, London: Picador, section 3, 3:
      She looked up over the page, ran her eye abstractedly across the room, but gave no sign at all of seeing him.

Usage notes


The development of the sense with absence of mind is illustrated by the following quotation, in which to think abstractedly is to give one’s full attention to one thing, to the exclusion of all else:






  1. ^ Lesley Brown, editor-in-chief, William R. Trumble and Angus Stevenson, editors (2002), “abstractedly”, in The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles, 5th edition, Oxford, New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 10. [This source gives the mid-17th century as the earliest attestation, but compare quotations above.]