Sunday, March 6, 2011


Concrete and Abstract Nouns (Thanks to

A noun (such as chicken or egg) that names a material or tangible object or phenomenon--something recognizable through the senses. Contrast with abstract noun.

Examples and Observations:

  • "Abstract and general terms represent ideas, explain attitudes, and explore relationships such as contigency (if something will happen), causality (why it occurs), and priority (what is first in time or importance). Concrete and specific words clarify and illustrate between abstract and concrete words and general and specific language, blending them naturally.

    "To achieve this mix, use abstract and general words to state your ideas. Use specific and concrete words to illustrate and support them."
    (Robert DiYanni and Pat C. Hoy II, The Scribner Handbook for Writers, 3rd ed. Allyn and Bacon, 2001)
  • "With your sheets like metal and your belt like lace,
    And your deck of cards missing the jack and the ace,
    And your basement clothes and your hollow face,
    Who among them can think he could outguess you?"
    (Bob Dylan, "Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands")
  • "Beauty and fear are abstract ideas; they exist in your mind, not in the forest along with the trees and the owls. Concrete words refer to things we can touch, see, hear, smell, and taste, such as sandpaper, soda, birch trees, smog, cow, sailboat, rocking chair, and pancake. . . .

    "Good writing balances ideas and facts, and it also balances abstract and concrete diction. If the writing is too abstract, with too few concrete facts and details, it will be unconvincing and tiresome. If the writing is too concrete, devoid of ideas and emotions, it can seem pointless and dry."
    (Alfred Rosa and Paul Eschholz, Models for Writers: Short Essays for Composition. St. Martin's, 1982)
  • "At middle age the soul should be opening up like a rose, not closing up like a cabbage."
    (John Andrew Holmes)
added 4-6-11