adjective dis·tract·ed \ di-ˈstrak-təd \
|Updated on: 20 Jul 2018

Definition of distracted

1 : having one's thoughts or attention drawn away : unable to concentrate or give attention to something
  • a distracted driver
  • … everyone else … is too distracted to see how lost and yearning she has become …
  • —Richard Schickel
  • … used to get so distracted by cellphone conversations overheard on the bus that she couldn't focus on reading.
  • —Roni Caryn Rabin
2 : harassed, confused, or deranged especially by strong feelings
  • a mind distracted by grief
  • … putting that poor gentleman through a course of questions that nearly drove him distracted.
  • —Louisa May Alcott





Examples of distracted in a Sentence

  1. If you're feeling distracted, take a break.

  2. she's been distracted about her son ever since he left on that polar expedition

Recent Examples of distracted from the Web

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

First Known Use of distracted


in the meaning defined at sense 2

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Synonym Discussion of distracted

abstracted, preoccupied, absent, absentminded, distracted mean inattentive to what claims or demands consideration. abstracted implies absorption of the mind in something other than one's surroundings, and often suggests reflection on weighty matters.
    • walking about with an abstracted air
preoccupied often implies having one's attention so taken up by thoughts as to neglect others.
    • too preoccupied with her debts to enjoy the meal
absent stresses inability to fix the mind on present concerns due more to mental wandering than to concentration on other matters.
    • an absent stare
absentminded implies that the mind is fixed elsewhere and often refers to a habit of abstractedness.
    • so absentminded, he's been known to wear mismatched shoes
distracted may suggest an inability to concentrate caused by worry, sorrow, or anxiety.
    • was too distracted by grief to continue working

DISTRACTED Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of distracted for English Language Learners

  • : unable to think about or pay attention to something : unable to concentrate

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