pro·​tract | \ prō-ˈtrakt How to pronounce protract (audio) , prə- \
protracted; protracting; protracts

Definition of protract

transitive verb

1 : to prolong in time or space : continue
2 : to extend forward or outward — compare retract sense 1
3 archaic : delay, defer

Other Words from protract

protractive \ prō-​ˈtrak-​tiv How to pronounce protract (audio) , 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 Epidemics can be short-lived or protracted, or, like the Justinianic plague, recurrent. Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker, 30 Mar. 2020 The process of making sourdough is protracted, but Petrarca and Richardson said the crusty, tangy result is worth the effort. David Lindquist, Indianapolis Star, 16 Apr. 2020 Ammon Bundy is the son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who in 2014 engaged in a protracted battled with the federal Bureau of Land Management over grazing rights for his cattle. Anna-maja Rappard, CNN, 9 Apr. 2020 Some of these regions have protracted and incredibly violent conflicts. John D'anna, azcentral, 17 Dec. 2019 Instead of yielding an emphatic victory for one side and, conversely, an incontrovertible defeat for the other, modern armed conflicts are prone to descend into protracted, drawn out endgames. Cian O'driscoll, Quartz, 2 Dec. 2019 But the road to the referendum was protracted and bloody. The Economist, 23 Nov. 2019 In his speech, Johnson delivered what amounted to a breezy dismissal of May’s protracted and ultimately unsuccessful efforts to win lawmakers’ approval for a divorce agreement with the EU. Christina Boyle, Los Angeles Times, 24 July 2019 Back in Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka, the government’s death was protracted and dramatic. The Economist, 25 July 2019

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 3

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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Time Traveler for protract

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The first known use of protract was in 1540

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Cite this Entry

“Protract.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for protract


pro·​tract | \ prō-ˈtrakt How to pronounce protract (audio) \
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 How to pronounce protract (audio) \

Medical Definition of protract

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

More from Merriam-Webster on protract

Nglish: Translation of protract for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of protract for Arabic Speakers


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