abstract nonsense
English[edit]
Etymology[edit]
Coined by Norman Steenrod, popularized by Serge Lang.
Noun[edit]
abstract nonsense (uncountable)
 (mathematics, humorous) Details which are straightforward but so tedious that an author or lecturer would rather skip them (especially those of a category theoretical nature).
 (mathematics, humorous) Details which involve diagram chasing.

2016, Emily Riehl, Category Theory in Context (Aurora: Dover modern math originals)^{[1]}, New York: Dover, →ISBN, OCLC 976394474, page x:
 ^{3}Lang’s Algebra [Lan02, p. 759] supports the general consensus that this was not intended as an epithet:
In the forties and fifties (mostly in the works of Cartan, Eilenberg, MacLane, and Steenrod, see [CE56]), it was realized that there was a systematic way of developing certain relations of linear algebra, depending only on fairly general constructions which were mostly arrowtheoretic, and were affectionately called abstract nonsense by Steenrod.
 ^{3}Lang’s Algebra [Lan02, p. 759] supports the general consensus that this was not intended as an epithet:

 (mathematics, humorous) Category theory in general.
Coordinate terms[edit]
 (skipped details): handwave
Translations[edit]
straightforward and tedious details
category theory