Abstraction is a conceptual process by which higher, more abstract concepts are derived from the usage and classification of literal, "real," or "concrete" concepts. An "abstraction" (noun) is a concept that acts as super-categorical noun for all subordinate concepts, and connects any related concepts as a group, field, or category.

Abstractions may be formed by reducing the information content of a concept or an observable phenomenon, typically to retain only information which is relevant for a particular purpose. For example, abstracting a leather soccer ball to the more general idea of a ball retains only the information on general ball attributes and behavior, eliminating the characteristics of that particular ball.

In philosophical terminology, abstraction is the thought process wherein ideas are distanced from objects.

Abstraction uses a strategy of simplification, wherein formerly concrete details are left ambiguous, vague, or undefined; thus effective communication about things in the abstract requires an intuitive or common experience between the communicator and the communication recipient. This is true for all verbal/abstract communication.