so lost in thought that one does not realize what one is doing, what is happening, etc.; preoccupied to the extent of being unaware of one’s immediate surroundings.
contemporary examples

he had his right hand to his face and was absent-mindedly rubbing the scar on his left cheekbone.
gordie howe hockey’s greatest war horse w.c. heinz may 30, 2014

historical examples

mr. kronborg, quite innocent of her intentions, replied kindly and absent-mindedly.
song of the lark willa cather

“oh, she has declared her intention,” murmured lingard, absent-mindedly.
the rescue joseph conrad

he was playing with his carved ivory baton, absent-mindedly, as if he were conscious of his inferiority in literary matters.
the confession of a fool august strindberg

he had absent-mindedly strayed into the wrong continent and the wrong creed.
a miscellany of men g. k. chesterton

i was first to finish, however, and getting up i absent-mindedly picked up her umbrella and started for the door.
humorous h-ts and how to hold an audience grenville kleiser

“possibly,” remarked pierre, looking about him absent-mindedly.
war and peace leo tolstoy

when febrer was left alone he took down his gun, and stood near the door for a long time examining it absent-mindedly.
the dead command vicente blasco ibez

“84, cavendish mansions,” murmured mr. hoggins absent-mindedly.
the angel of terror edgar wallace

“i should think brown was synonymous with synopsis,” said i absent-mindedly.
lat-tude 19 degree mrs. schuyler crowninshield

preoccupied; forgetful; inattentive

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