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

Definition of detract

intransitive verb

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

transitive verb

1 : divert didn't mean to detract attention from the guest of honor
2 archaic : to speak ill of
3 archaic : to take away

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from detract

detractor \ di-​ˈtrak-​tər How to pronounce detractor (audio) , dē-​ \ 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 Unfortunately, your misspelling detracted from the message. Amy Dickinson, oregonlive, "Ask Amy: Groom’s online whine about attending wedding shower is just rude," 29 Nov. 2019 Audiences may laugh, but too many jokes and asides can detract from the overall experience. Sarah Schutte, National Review, "A British Choral Group, ‘Singing Joyfully’ on the Upper East Side," 26 Oct. 2019 Hiring inefficient subcontractors can greatly detract from the job, and the most experienced remodeling companies have found the best people to work through their years of experience. John Inc., Houston Chronicle, "GHBA Remodelers Council: Find the right fit when choosing remodeler," 26 Oct. 2019 Too many endings and romantic subplots that do nothing but bloat the running time and detract from the snowy action could easily have been jettisoned by editors Tang Man To and Li Lin for a leaner, loftier final product. Elizabeth Kerr, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Climbers' ('Pan deng zhe'): Film Review," 1 Oct. 2019 The Sara Lee imbroglio, however, should not detract from Styles’s unanimously stellar performance on the rest of the show. Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, "Sara Lee Had a Very Sara Lee Response to Harry Styles’s SNL Skit," 18 Nov. 2019 But these absences do not detract from Beradt’s vivid, indelible details, which deepen our understanding of life during Nazism’s early years—a period still overshadowed in the literature by accounts of mass murder and war. Mireille Juchau, The New Yorker, "How Dreams Change Under Authoritarianism," 7 Nov. 2019 But the growing preference for cold coffee spurred a new category of canned and bottled cold brew that’s widely available at retailers—and another option for on-the-go consumption that’s detracting from coffee shop visits. Julie Jargon, WSJ, "Can Starbucks Perk Back Up?," 26 Oct. 2018 But significant as many of the concerns are, none of that detracts from the fact that Brazil was the best team in this tournament. Jonathan Wilson,, "Brazil Shows Character, Quality in Winning Copa America, Restoring Faith," 7 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'detract.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of detract

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

History and Etymology for detract

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about detract

Time Traveler for detract

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for detract

Last Updated

8 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Detract.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 11 December 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for detract


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

Kids Definition of detract

: to take away (as from value or importance) Signs detract from the beauty of the scenery.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on detract

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for detract

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with detract

Spanish Central: Translation of detract

Nglish: Translation of detract for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of detract for Arabic Speakers

Comments on detract

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


heavy with or as if with moisture

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Semantic Drift Quiz

  • a twisty river
  • Which of the following was once a synonym for fun?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!