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adjective dis·tract \di-ˈstrakt, ˈdis-ˌtrakt\

Definition of distract


  1. :  insane, mad

14th Century

First Known Use of distract

14th century



verb dis·tract \di-ˈstrakt\

Simple Definition of distract

  • : to cause (someone) to stop thinking about or paying attention to someone or something and to think about or pay attention to someone or something else instead

  • : to take (attention) away from someone or something

Full Definition of distract

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 a :  to turn aside :  divert <refused to be distracted from her purpose> b :  to draw or direct (as one's attention) to a different object or in different directions at the same time <was distracted by a sudden noise>

  3. 2 :  to stir up or confuse with conflicting emotions or motives

dis·tract·i·bil·i·ty play \-ˌstrak-tə-ˈbi-lə-tē\ noun
dis·tract·ible also dis·tract·able play \-ˈstrak-tə-bəl\ adjective
dis·tract·ing·ly play \-tiŋ-lē\ adverb

Examples of distract

  1. You sneak into his room while I distract him.

  2. He was distracted from his studies.

  3. The students are easily distracted, especially when they're tired.

  4. I was distracted by a loud noise.

  5. The local story distracted attention from news of the war overseas.

Origin of distract

Middle English, from Latin distractus, past participle of distrahere, literally, to draw apart, from dis- + trahere to draw

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of distract

puzzle, perplex, bewilder, distract, nonplus, confound, dumbfound mean to baffle and disturb mentally. puzzle implies existence of a problem difficult to solve <the persistent fever puzzled the doctor>. perplex adds a suggestion of worry and uncertainty especially about making a necessary decision <a behavior that perplexed her friends>. bewilder stresses a confusion of mind that hampers clear and decisive thinking <a bewildering number of possibilities>. distract implies agitation or uncertainty induced by conflicting preoccupations or interests <distracted by personal problems>. nonplus implies a bafflement that makes orderly planning or deciding impossible <the remark left us utterly nonplussed>. confound implies temporary mental paralysis caused by astonishment or profound abasement <the tragic news confounded us all>. dumbfound suggests intense but momentary confounding; often the idea of astonishment is so stressed that it becomes a near synonym of astound <was at first too dumbfounded to reply>.

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up distract? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 10, 2016

to put in good humor

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