distract

verb
dis·​tract | \ di-ˈstrakt \
distracted; distracting; distracts

Definition of distract

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to draw or direct (something, such as someone's attention) to a different object or in different directions at the same time was distracted by a sudden noise
b : to turn aside : divert refused to be distracted from her purpose
2 : to stir up or confuse with conflicting emotions or motives

distract

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

Definition of distract (Entry 2 of 2)

archaic
: insane, mad

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Other Words from distract

Verb

distractibility \ -​ˌstrak-​tə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē \ noun
distractible or less commonly distractable \ -​ˈstrak-​tə-​bəl \ adjective
distractingly \ -​tiŋ-​lē \ adverb

Synonyms for distract

Synonyms: Verb

abstract, call off, detract, divert, throw off

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Choose the Right Synonym for distract

Verb

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

Examples of distract in a Sentence

Verb

You sneak into his room while I distract him. He was distracted from his studies. The students are easily distracted, especially when they're tired. I was distracted by a loud noise. The local story distracted attention from news of the war overseas.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Knowing she is not good at hiding things from Jamie, Claire is anxious and distracted during a meal. Outlander Fan, Marie Claire, "5 Biggest Takeaways From 'Outlander' Season 4 Episode 10," 7 Jan. 2019 The objectives of her trip weren’t clearly defined, and some of her clothes were, well, distracting. Klara Glowczewska, Town & Country, "Melania Trump Gave Us All a Valuable Lesson in How Not to Dress in Africa," 9 Oct. 2018 Drunk, tired, and distracted drivers account for a large fraction of roadway deaths. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Car crashes killed 37,133 people in the US in 2017," 3 Oct. 2018 The Democrats search and destroy strategy is disgraceful and this process has been a total sham, an effort to delay, distract and resist. Fox News, "Hannity: Democrats have turned SCOTUS process into a sham," 27 Sep. 2018 So Trump’s got plenty of time to entertain — and distract — us before making the final choice. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "The First Big SCOTUS Rumor Sends Senator Mike Lee to the Bench," 28 June 2018 The ride-hailing company settled the lawsuit this year for $245 million in Uber equity, but not before the lawsuit distracted its leaders and placed a black mark on its autonomous program. Fortune, "Who’s Winning the Self-Driving Car Race?," 31 May 2018 Nine police departments targeted drivers who were speeding or distracted or committed other safety violations. Michelle Mullins, Naperville Sun, "Naperville News Digest," 25 May 2018 Zoe Reardon, now 18, was charged with second-degree vehicular homicide in all three deaths as well as counts of distracted driving, failure to yield to a pedestrian and the unlawful use of a wireless device under age 18. Elaine Aradillas, PEOPLE.com, "Distracted Teen Driver Killed a Mother and Child Fleeing Hurricane Irma, Authorities Allege," 16 May 2018

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

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First Known Use of distract

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for distract

Verb

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

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Statistics for distract

Last Updated

15 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for distract

The first known use of distract was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for distract

distract

verb

English Language Learners 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

distract

verb
dis·​tract | \ di-ˈstrakt \
distracted; distracting

Kids Definition of distract

: to draw a person's thoughts or attention to something else The TV distracts me when I'm studying.

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More from Merriam-Webster on distract

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with distract

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for distract

Spanish Central: Translation of distract

Nglish: Translation of distract for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of distract for Arabic Speakers

Comments on distract

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