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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; recondite; obscure; esoteric. [First attested in the late 16th century.][1]
    • 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.

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  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Lesley Brown (editor), The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, 5th edition (Oxford University Press, 2003 [1933], ISBN 978-0198605751), page 10
  2. ^ Philip Babcock Gove (editor), Webster's Third International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged (G. & C. Merriam Co., 1976 [1909], ISBN 0-87779-101-5), page 8
  3. ^ Laurence Urdang (editor), The Random House College Dictionary (Random House, 1984 [1975], ISBN 0-394-43600-8), page 7

Further reading[edit]




  1. feminine singular of abstrus





  1. inflected form of abstrus




  1. vocative masculine singular of abstrūsus