dis·​tract | \di-ˈstrakt \

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


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

Definition of distract (Entry 2 of 2)


: insane, mad

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Other Words from distract


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

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of distract in a Sentence


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

You don’t get distracted by the linear geometry [of the floorboards]. Samantha Weiss Hills, Curbed, "A micro cabin in Vermont offers an artist refuge," 15 Oct. 2018 Using one of Hollywood's oldest tricks in the book, the Duchess of Sussex sneakily distracted from her baby bump by holding two large objects in front of her stomach. Harper's Bazaar Staff, Harper's BAZAAR, "Meghan Markle Used a Classic TV Trick to Sneakily Hide Her Baby Bump," 15 Oct. 2018 But sometimes, even the decor can't distract from a breathtaking view out the window. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, "Room With a View: The Best Hotel Views Around the World," 15 Oct. 2018 The animation can be distracting at first; while you can get used to it, watching the show is an exercise in uncanniness. Patricia Hernandez, The Verge, "The Dragon Prince’s creators want to ‘improve’ the show’s controversial animation," 27 Sep. 2018 This cover will definitely distract you, but in the best way possible! 8. Noelle Devoe, Seventeen, "10 Best Notebooks to Help You Crush Your Classes This Semester," 5 Sep. 2018 Trying to get through a run without a good, supportive bra that’s right for your chest size can be really distracting—and not in a good way. Emilia Benton, SELF, "26 Sports Bras Marathon Runners Swear By," 25 Aug. 2018 Option two, don’t get distracted, look for landing place. Caroline Paul, Outside Online, "Caroline Paul on Her First Emergency Landing," 11 July 2018 The driver behind the wheel of a self-driving Uber that struck and killed a woman in Tempe, Ariz. was distracted by a television show streaming on her phone at the time of the crash, according to a police report. Jonathan Sperling, Fortune, "Arizona Uber Driver Was Streaming 'The Voice' on Hulu Before Fatal Self-Driving Car Crash," 22 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.

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First Known Use of distract


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


14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for distract


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

6 Dec 2018

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



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


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

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