In my dictionary, concrete means "existing in fact and not merely as a possibility", for example, concrete evidence. I was wondering if concrete in that sense is same as specific?

  • But they're not at all the same! Your usage of concrete is the figurative existing in a material form, or as an actual reality, whereas your specific means specially or peculiarly pertaining to a certain thing or class of things and constituting one of the characteristic features of this. It just so happens that "evidence" can be qualified using either or both terms. Commented Nov 9, 2013 at 21:51
  • Is imaginary the opposite of concrete, and general the opposite of specific?
    – Tim
    Commented Nov 9, 2013 at 21:52
  • In some contexts, yes. But whereas concrete - or more often, hard evidence - is commonplace, I never heard of imaginary evidence. Come to that, specific circumstantial evidence is a fairly ordinary collocation, but I don't think it would be possible to refer to concrete circumstantial evidence. Commented Nov 9, 2013 at 21:57
  • What is the opposite of particular, same as that for specific?
    – Tim
    Commented Nov 9, 2013 at 21:59
  • 1
    It all depends on the exact context. If I say "This particular question is General Reference", probably the most obvious "opposite" is "All questions are General Reference". As to the difference between specific and particular, they're effectively interchangeable synonyms in many contexts (but certainly not all contexts; true synonyms are exceptionally rare, if they exist at all). Commented Nov 9, 2013 at 22:13

1 Answer 1


Concrete and specific mean very different things, although in some circumstances they may both be applied to communicate somewhat similar meanings.

Specific is approximately synonymous with particular or individual; its antonym is usually general. A general property or attribute applies to all members of a class; a specific property or attribute applies to only some members or one member of the class.

Concrete is approximately synonymous with tangible or material; its antonym is usually abstract. An abstract entity has no physical existence, it is a mental construction, an idea; but a concrete entity is, in some sense, present to the senses.

The overlap arises when we are contrasting a physical ‘thing’ with the non-physical ‘class’ or ‘category’ to which it belongs. For instance, ‘human’ signifies those general qualities which are shared by all individual persons, or the abstract quality of being human, a member of the class homo sapiens; but an individual person is both specific, distinguishable from every other person, and concrete, possessing physical existence;.

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