pro·​tract | \prō-ˈtrakt, prə-\
protracted; protracting; protracts

Definition of protract 

transitive verb

1 archaic : delay, defer

2 : to prolong in time or space : continue

3 : to extend forward or outward — compare retract sense 1

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Other Words from protract

protractive \prō-​ˈtrak-​tiv, prə-​ \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for protract

extend, lengthen, prolong, protract mean to draw out or add to so as to increase in length. extend and lengthen imply a drawing out in space or time but extend may also imply increase in width, scope, area, or range. extend a vacation extend welfare services lengthen a skirt lengthen the workweek prolong suggests chiefly increase in duration especially beyond usual limits. prolonged illness protract adds to prolong implications of needlessness, vexation, or indefiniteness. protracted litigation

Examples of protract in a Sentence

the highway project was protracted by years of litigation

Recent Examples on the Web

Perhaps as a result, investigations can be at once protracted and perfunctory. Sarah Scoles, Outside Online, "The Harassment Problem in Scientific Dream Jobs," 21 May 2018 Then there’s more small talk and finally a protracted goodbye. David Pierce, WSJ, "Phone Calls Are Dead. Voice Chat Is the Future.," 8 July 2018 Among other things, the suit stated that Match had made a $450 million offer for the company last year that Bumble rebuffed, sparking a protracted back-and-forth over Bumble’s valuation. Leigh Gallagher, Fortune, "Match Is the Sweetheart of Online Dating—But Can It Fend Off Facebook and Bumble?," 27 June 2018 European spending negotiations are usually protracted, but this set could be especially challenging. Tania Rabesandratana, Science | AAAS, "European Commission proposes €100 billion research spending plan," 2 May 2018 The result of these won't be known for at least three weeks, protracting the negotiations, which have already taken months. Jeremy Wallace, Houston Chronicle, "Democrats set early voting records at start of Texas primaries," 21 Feb. 2018 The county government’s protracted permitting and approval process also made developers wary of investing, but that has improved in recent years. Arelis R. Hernández, Washington Post, "No one would build on barren land near Suitland Metro. So the county is taking the risk.," 25 Dec. 2017 The three figures known as the Hunters (J. Cameron Barnett, Ruibo Qian and Ben Horner) revel in protracting the deaths of their prey, who are escaped convicts. Ben Brantley, New York Times, "Review: A Play With a Crude Name and a Powerfully Dark View," 11 Sep. 2017 Of course, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will pay for some of the cost of Tavares’ loss, but the process for reimbursement can be protracted. Lauren Ritchie,, "Tavares took the worst hit from Irma — county suffers $68.5 million in storm damage," 29 Sep. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'protract.' 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 protract

1540, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for protract

Latin protractus, past participle of protrahere, literally, to draw forward, from pro- forward + trahere to draw — more at pro-

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Statistics for protract

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Time Traveler for protract

The first known use of protract was in 1540

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More Definitions for protract


pro·​tract | \prō-ˈtrakt \
protracted; protracting

Kids Definition of protract

: to make longer : draw out in time or space Disagreements protracted the negotiation.


transitive verb
pro·​tract | \prō-ˈtrakt \

Medical Definition of protract 

: to extend forward or outward the mandible is protracted and retracted in chewing — compare retract

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More from Merriam-Webster on protract

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with protract

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for protract

Spanish Central: Translation of protract

Nglish: Translation of protract for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of protract for Arabic Speakers

Comments on protract

What made you want to look up protract? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


living or existing for a long time

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