de·​tract di-ˈtrakt How to pronounce detract (audio)
detracted; detracting; detracts

intransitive verb

: to diminish the importance, value, or effectiveness of something
often used with from
small errors that do not seriously detract from the book

transitive verb

: divert
didn't mean to detract attention from the guest of honor
archaic : to speak ill of
archaic : to take away
detractor noun

Examples of detract in a Sentence

numerous typos in the text detract the reader's attention from the novel's intricate plot
Recent Examples on the Web Others have warned that the new laws may detract young physicians, especially obstetricians, from opting to remain in the state. Shari Rudavsky, The Indianapolis Star, 2 Aug. 2023 These songs neither add much nor detract significantly, beyond making one of Ms. Swift’s most succinct releases feel a little bloated. Mark Richardson, WSJ, 24 Oct. 2022 These concerns do not detract too much from the film’s overall success as a fast-and-furious action bonanza that’s stylishly filmed in a riot of primary colors by DP Phu Nam. Richard Kuipers, Variety, 23 Mar. 2023 Dogs aside, having someone who isn't family or a close family friend detracts her attention from the event. Jacobina Martin, Washington Post, 4 Mar. 2023 They are fixed, unchanging, far above our poor power to add or detract. Benjamin C. Waterhouse, Washington Post, 26 Apr. 2023 Some connections may be in the eyes of the beholders, which doesn’t detract. Roberta Smith, New York Times, 13 Apr. 2023 Friday night should not detract from Gilbert’s remarkable season. Theo MacKie, The Arizona Republic, 19 Nov. 2022 Men’s gold chain necklaces, in particular, are the piece in totality; there’s no pendant to detract if the chain isn’t quite perfect. Daisy Shaw-Ellis, Vogue, 28 Jan. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'detract.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from Latin detractus, past participle of detrahere to pull down, disparage, from de- + trahere to draw

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of detract was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near detract

Cite this Entry

“Detract.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


de·​tract di-ˈtrakt How to pronounce detract (audio)
: to take away some of the value or importance
detract from a person's reputation
detractively adverb
detractor noun

More from Merriam-Webster on detract

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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