Concrete words are “tangible.” You can touch, see, hear, smell, taste and paint a picture of the objects they describe. Abstract words are just the opposite. They make no mental connection to physical objects in the world. Many concrete words are derived from Anglo-Saxon and tend to be one syllable, more direct and blunt than abstract words, which are typically polysyllabic Latin words.
Concrete: rose, thimble, chair, paper, water, axe, dirt, chalk, telephone, milk
Abstract: occupation, intermittent, precept, offer, monograph, epilogue, aspect
A mix of both types, with an emphasis on concrete words, is best. People who overuse abstract words tend to be wordier.
William Faulkner: “[Hemingway] has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.”
Hemingway’s response: “Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?”