dis·​trait | \ di-ˈstrā How to pronounce distrait (audio) \

Definition of distrait

: apprehensively divided or withdrawn in attention : distracted

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Distrait is a somewhat literary word with an unusual history. Borrowed from Anglo-French, it was used in the 15th century in a sense very close to that of "distraught," which means "deeply agitated or troubled." (Both words are ultimately from the Latin adjective distractus.) Later, during the 18th century, "distrait" appears to have been borrowed again from French in a milder sense closer to "preoccupied" or "distracted." Another peculiarity of the word is that it tends to be treated in English as if it were still a French word: it has a feminine variant, "distraite," like a French adjective, and it is pronounced as if French. It can still suggest agitation, but not as strongly as "distraught"; more often it means simply "mentally remote."

Examples of distrait in a Sentence

he grew more and more distrait as hours passed without confirmation that there were survivors of the plane crash

First Known Use of distrait

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for distrait

Middle English, from Anglo-French destreit, from Latin distractus

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The first known use of distrait was in the 15th century

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Cite this Entry

“Distrait.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/distrait. Accessed 16 Jan. 2021.

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