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

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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

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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 Safety experts struggle to explain the carnage. Retting points to smartphones, which distract drivers and pedestrians alike. Los Angeles Times, "Pedestrians die every 90 minutes in the U.S., and low-income areas are hurt most," 16 Sep. 2019 Lara is a remarkable young actress, with a gaze that magnetizes even the camera’s easily distracted attention. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: A grim fairy tale, ‘Tigers Are Not Afraid’ peers at war through a child’s eyes," 12 Sep. 2019 The same study found that laptop use also distracted nearby students. Kenneth A. Kiewra, Quartz, "A seven-step guide to taking better notes," 4 Sep. 2019 Last year during the Labor Day weekend, state police gave out 47 tickets for motorists who weren’t wearing seatbelts and 2,474 tickets for hazardous moving violations, which included distracted driving. Christine Dempsey, courant.com, "State police responded to 143 more crashes this Labor Day weekend than last," 3 Sep. 2019 The same study found that laptop use also distracted nearby students. Kenneth A. Kiewra, The Conversation, "7 tips on how to take better notes," 3 Sep. 2019 Police noted in reports that the officers’ distracted driving was a contributing factor to the crashes. Mara H. Gottfried, Twin Cities, "2 St. Paul officers crash while looking at laptops; city OKs $100K to settle claims," 3 Sep. 2019 Alcohol, speeding and distracted driving continue to be the leading causes of fatal car accidents, the NSC said. Scottie Andrew, CNN, "Deaths caused by red light runners hit a 10-year high, AAA says," 29 Aug. 2019 The agency released the statistics Thursday just ahead of Labor Day weekend, when troopers will again be vigilantly watching for speeding, distracted driving and other offenses. Ann Zaniewski, Detroit Free Press, "Driver clocked at 106 mph during State Police operation," 29 Aug. 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

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

25 Oct 2019

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
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

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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Comments on distract

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