abstracted +‎ -ly


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


abstractedly (comparative more abstractedly, superlative most abstractedly)

  1. In an abstracted manner; separately; in the abstract. [First attested in the early 17th century.][1]
    • 1610, Edmund Bolton, The Elements of Armories, London: George Eld, Chapter 15, p. 89,[1]
      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.
    • 1681, Isaac Barrow, A Brief Exposition of the Lord’s Prayer and the Decalogue, London: Brabazon Aylmer, p.164,[2]
      [] it is abundant satisfaction to them if they see their children do well; their chief delight and contentment is in their childrens good absolutely and abstractedly, without indirect regards to their own advantage.
    • 1734, George Berkeley, The Analyst, London: J. Tonson, p. 77,[3]
      Qu. 8. Whether the Notions of absolute Time, absolute Place, and absolute Motion be not most abstractedly Metaphysical? Whether it be possible for us to measure, compute, or know them?
    • 1769, Samuel Johnson, cited in James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson, London: Charles Dilly, Volume 1, p. 311,[4]
      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, Progress in Art and Architecture, London: David Bogue, Chapter 3, p. 38,[5]
      [] 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, Flim-Flams! London: John Murray, 2nd edition, Volume 2, Chapter 38, p. 219,[6]
      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!
    • 1878, Thomas Hardy, Far from the Madding Crowd, Chapter 12,[7]
      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, The Great Divide, London: Lovat Dickson & Thompson, Chapter Ten,[8]
      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 Three, 3,
      She looked up over the page, ran her eye abstractedly across the room, but gave no sign at all of seeing him.

Usage notesEdit

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:

  • 1809, Maria Edgeworth, Tales of Fashionable Life, Georgetown: Joseph Milligan, Volume 1, Chapter 16, p. 213,[9]
    [] I, this morning as I lay awake in my bed, thought so abstractedly and attentively, that I heard neither wheels nor hostlers.




  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 attestion, but cf. quotations above.]