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


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

Definition of distract (Entry 2 of 2)


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Other Words from distract


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

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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

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 But, fear not, because Deadline has reported on the A+ supporting cast to distract us from some of these bigger plot questions. Allie Gemmill, Teen Vogue, "Freeform Announces New Queer Movie "The Thing About Harry" for Valentine's Day," 12 Nov. 2019 Do your best to exclude everything that might distract from your subject. Tribune News Service, cleveland, "Try these tips to get great travel photos," 10 Nov. 2019 Social networking, however, could eat into your time and distract you from other, more important matters. Tribune Content Agency, oregonlive, "Horoscope for Nov. 9, 2019: Taurus, champion a good cause; Cancer, bake a cake or grill a steak," 9 Nov. 2019 That victory captured the imagination of the English public -- a public that is desperate to cling onto anything that will distract it from Brexit. James Masters, CNN, "South Africa stuns England to win Rugby World Cup and inspire a nation," 2 Nov. 2019 With the departure of Mr. Neumann, whom SoftBank agreed to hire as a consultant for four years at a cost of $185 million, WeWork may no longer veer into projects that distracted staff and cost the company money. Peter Eavis, New York Times, "‘It’s Definitely Pretty Empty’: Why Saving WeWork Will Be Hard," 24 Oct. 2019 Experts have blamed the increase on factors including the proliferation of smartphones that distract both drivers and pedestrians, the popularity of ever-bigger SUVs, and road design that encourages speeding. Wired, "As Pedestrian Deaths Spike, Feds Take on Fanciful Crosswalks," 23 Oct. 2019 The self-interested focus on reelection distracts them from serving the public with all their energy. Bernd Reiter, The Conversation, "Voting could be the problem with democracy," 22 Oct. 2019 The key was to create clothing that does not distract or feel uncomfortable. Nadia Neophytou, The Hollywood Reporter, "With a $250K Ticket to Space, Virgin Galactic Civilian Astronauts Will Be Outfitted in This Customized Spacesuit," 17 Oct. 2019

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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Time Traveler for distract

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for distract

Last Updated

22 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Distract.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/distractable. Accessed 5 December 2019.

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More Definitions for distract


How to pronounce distract (audio)

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 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.

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