distract

verb
dis·​tract | \ di-ˈstrakt How to pronounce distract (audio) \
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 How to pronounce distract (audio) , ˈdis-ˌtrakt\

Definition of distract (Entry 2 of 2)

archaic
: insane, mad

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from distract

Verb

distractibility \ di-​ˌstrak-​tə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce distractibility (audio) \ noun
distractible or less commonly distractable \ di-​ˈstrak-​tə-​bəl How to pronounce distractable (audio) \ adjective
distractingly \ di-​ˈstrak-​tiŋ-​lē How to pronounce distractingly (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms for distract

Synonyms: Verb

abstract, call off, detract, divert, throw off

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

If you were too distracted by the adorable awkwardness of Jack and Rebecca’s first date to notice anything else, who could blame you? Emma Dibdin, Country Living, "6 Things You Missed From the 'This Is Us' Season 3 Premiere," 26 Sep. 2018 Since being tired, rushed, or distracted is extremely relatable, people immediately began commenting in the thread, sharing their stories of leaving the house with two different shoes on. Alyssa Hardy, Teen Vogue, "Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon's Mismatched Shoes Go Viral on Twitter," 14 Mar. 2019 While tension was mounting, Miguel decided to start a game in attempt to keep everyone distracted/from exploding on each other. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "'This Is Us' Fans Are Furious With Miguel After Watching the Latest Episode," 13 Mar. 2019 This simplicity gives text editors just the right amount of distracting power. Rachel Z. Arndt, Popular Mechanics, "Why You Should Ditch Microsoft Word for NotePad," 8 Mar. 2019 But the blame artists are distracting attention from the real sickness, which in this case is anti-Semitism, a hatred that goes back millennia. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "The Oldest Hatred," 28 Oct. 2018 Once inside, the man lured the victim to the backyard and distracted the victim's attention away from the house. City News Service, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Sketch released of suspect wanted in Escondido burglary," 28 June 2018 Big projects risk distracting attention from the hard work of, say, improving legal standards. The Economist, "Breaking the curseWhy Gulf economies struggle to wean themselves off oil," 21 June 2018 DeVos' testimony to a Senate subcommittee came amid criticism by Democrats and some educators that the panel, set up by President Trump in March, was focused more on distracting public attention rather than truly addressing gun violence. CBS News, "Betsy DeVos: School safety commission won't examine role of guns," 5 June 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about distract

Statistics for distract

Last Updated

23 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for distract

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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 How to pronounce distract (audio) \
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.

Keep scrolling for more

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

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

WORD OF THE DAY

not to be persuaded, moved, or stopped

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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