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

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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

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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

As a complete goofball who is easily distracted, I’m drawn to Moore’s composure and hope to soak it up a little bit through YouTube osmosis. Hannah Chenoweth, SELF, "The 9 Best YouTube Yoga Channels I Discovered While Practicing Yoga at Home for 6 Years," 5 May 2019 Beyond directly intervening, a bystander can distract by asking a question, delay by checking in with the person, delegate by seeking help from someone else (such as a security guard), and document the situation for evidence later on. Greta Moran, Teen Vogue, "The Culture of Sexual Harassment at Music Festivals Like Coachella Could Be Changing," 3 May 2019 Both addictions served the same function: to keep her distracted, 24/7. Allure, "Your Guide to Microdosing for Anxiety and Depression," 19 Apr. 2019 Humans can easily develop tunnel vision or become distracted in combat, and an AI acting as a third set of eyes is a hedge against the soldiers missing something critical to their own survival. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "This Crazy Ad for an Israeli Future Tank Is Something Else," 12 Mar. 2019 Some lawmakers saw the Justice Department statement as an effort to distract attention from the conversation about Russian election interference. John D. Mckinnon, WSJ, "Justice Department to Examine Whether Social-Media Giants Are ‘Intentionally Stifling’ Some Viewpoints," 5 Sep. 2018 In the end, Peter gets distracted by his own thoughts and ends up walking out of the meeting without saying goodbye. Adam Kirsch, The Atlantic, "The Anguished Comedy of Helen DeWitt," 25 June 2018 That’s a big and important story, don’t get distracted by story B.’ Story B can also be a big and important story, right? Eric Johnson, Recode, "Full Q&A: NBC journalists Chuck Todd, Andrea Mitchell and Hallie Jackson on Recode Decode," 5 Dec. 2018 Other case changes Most people will be distracted by the bigger screen and not notice the other changes on the Series 4's case. Valentina Palladino, Ars Technica, "Apple Watch Series 4 review: A bigger, better watchOS experience," 26 Sep. 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

10 May 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 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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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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