Open main menu

Wiktionary β




From French abstrus[1] or its source, Latin abstrūsus (hidden, concealed), the perfect passive participle of abstrūdō (conceal, to push away)[2], itself from ab, abs (away) + trūdō (thrust, push).[3] Cognate with German abstrus.



abstruse (comparative abstruser or more abstruse, superlative abstrusest or most abstruse)

  1. (obsolete) Concealed or hidden out of the way; secret. [Attested from the late 16th century until the mid 18th century.][1]
    • 1612, Thomas Shelton, chapter 15, in The History of the Valorous and Wittie Knight-Errant Don-Quixote of the Mancha, translation of original by Miguel de Cervantes, part 4, page 500:
      O who is he that could carrie newes to our olde father, that thou wert but aliue, although thou wert hidden in the most abstruse dungeons of Barbarie; for his riches, my brothers and mine would fetch thee from thence.
    • 1667, John Milton, Paradise Lost:
      The eternal eye whose sight discerns abstrusest thoughts.
  2. Difficult to comprehend or understand[First attested in the late 16th century.][1]
    Synonyms: recondite, obscure, esoteric
    • 1548, Bishop John Hooper, “Curiosity”, in A Declaration of the Ten Holy Comaundementes of Almygthye God, page 218:
      [] at the end of his cogitacions, fyndithe more abstruse, and doutfull obiections then at the beginning []
    • 1748, David Hume, Enquiries concerning the human understanding and concerning the principles of moral., London: Oxford University Press, published 1973, 13:
      It is certain that the easy and obvious philosophy will always, with the generality of mankind, have the preference above the accurate and abstruse; []
    • 1855, Henry Hart Milman, History of Latin Christianity:
      Profound and abstruse topics.

Usage notesEdit

Derived termsEdit

Related termsEdit


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 “abstruse” in Lesley Brown, editor-in-chief; William R. Trumble and Angus Stevenson, editors, The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles, 5th edition, Oxford; New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, 2002, ↑ISBN, page 10.
  2. ^ Philip Babcock Gove (editor), Webster's Third International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged (G. & C. Merriam Co., 1976 [1909], ↑ISBN), page 8
  3. ^ Laurence Urdang (editor), The Random House College Dictionary (Random House, 1984 [1975], ↑ISBN), page 7

Further readingEdit





  1. feminine singular of abstrus





  1. inflected form of abstrus




  1. vocative masculine singular of abstrūsus