dis·​tract·​ed di-ˈstrak-təd How to pronounce distracted (audio)
: 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
: harassed, confused, or disturbed 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
distractedly adverb
distractedness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for distracted

abstracted, preoccupied, absent, absent-minded, 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

absent-minded implies that the mind is fixed elsewhere and often refers to a habit of abstractedness.

so absent-minded, 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

Examples of distracted in a Sentence

If you're feeling distracted, take a break. she's been distracted about her son ever since he left on that polar expedition
Recent Examples on the Web But Republicans are increasingly hesitant — and distracted. Jacob Bogage, Washington Post, 14 Nov. 2023 Executive functioning is being refined and polished in the brain for the duration of child and adolescent development, so being unorganized, forgetful, and distracted can be age-appropriate. Emily Edlynn, Parents, 7 Nov. 2023 How many times has an entrepreneur pitched the traditional deck to an investor who is on the phone or distracted? Neil Senturia, San Diego Union-Tribune, 5 Nov. 2023 However, my teenager acknowledged she’s gotten distracted by an overzealous parent in the past. Melissa Willets, Parents, 3 Oct. 2023 Some large Tesla shareholders regret that Musk bought Twitter and complained that Musk seems too distracted to properly run the electric carmaker—not to mention his other big firm, the private company SpaceX. Musk himself regretted the Twitter purchase. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, 26 Oct. 2023 At one point, Kazuhiko was heading to a table with an order but became distracted when the construction crew outside made a loud noise. Julia Mio Inuma, Washington Post, 19 Sep. 2023 While some may worry that a proliferation of in-car entertainment options on multiple screens might lead to distracted driving and deaths, this isn’t a key concern in China. Carlton Reid, WIRED, 14 Oct. 2023 And, perhaps, the Israeli uprising against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s judicial reforms led Hamas to anticipate a divided and distracted adversary. Marc Lynch, Foreign Affairs, 14 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'distracted.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1576, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of distracted was in 1576

Dictionary Entries Near distracted

Cite this Entry

“Distracted.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/distracted. Accessed 10 Dec. 2023.

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