side·​track | \ˈsīd-ˌtrak \

Definition of sidetrack 

(Entry 1 of 2)

2 : a position or condition of secondary importance to which one may be diverted


sidetracked; sidetracking; sidetracks

Definition of sidetrack (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to shunt aside (as to a railroad siding)

2a : to turn aside from a purpose : deflect

b : to prevent action on by diversionary tactics sidetrack an issue

Examples of sidetrack in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The sidetrack to that is that Inge is a German person. Chris Hewitt, Twin Cities, "‘Sweet Land’: an immigration-themed love story that had to be a musical," 4 May 2017 When the Aztecs were winning three straight tournament championships from 2013-15 they always were accompanied with twists and turns, sidetracks and setbacks. Kirk Kenney,, "Aztecs lose 12-1 to Fresno State, forcing winner-take-all game Sunday for MW title," 27 May 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Work on the new insect guide was temporarily sidetracked by a project to develop the first comprehensive, online guide to the region’s moths. Sandi Doughton, The Seattle Times, "What’s that bug? New Northwest field guide makes it easy to find out," 20 Aug. 2018 Any team that has the talent of Ronaldo has to be considered a threat, even though the discussion about what the Real Madrid forward could do on this stage has been sidetracked with talk of what awaits in his club career. Tim Booth,, "Euro 2016 champions Portugal face unsettled Spain," 14 June 2018 His supporters said the move was an attempt to keep Navalny sidetracked as Putin’s approval ratings dropped. Kathleen Joyce, Fox News, "Vladimir Putin's fiercest critic, Alexei Navalny, released from jail then immediately detained again," 25 Sep. 2018 Julie Morgenstern, author of Time Management from the Inside Out, suggests learning to say no to the people and phone calls that sidetrack you. Bob Morris, Town & Country, "Two Blocks Away. Seriously!," 12 Dec. 2012 Duffy avoided the big inning that sidetracked each of his previous starts. Maria Torres, kansascity, "Royals' bullpen falls apart twice as Blue Jays sweep doubleheader | The Kansas City Star," 17 Apr. 2018 DeMarcus Cousins isn’t for everyone: The polarizing center’s size, skill and reliable 25/10 production come gift-wrapped in a deep pile of red flags that have repeatedly sabotaged and sidetracked his NBA career. Ben Golliver,, "The DeMarcus Cousins Experience Isn’t for Everyone, but Warriors Are More Than Ready," 2 July 2018 Even though Jones’ career got sidetracked slightly, her talent offered her redemption. Aaron Gilbreath, Longreads, "Forced to Perform As Aretha Franklin," 2 July 2018 Lewis’ knee issues have taken years off his career, sidetracked his path and lowered his prospect status. Ryan Divish, The Seattle Times, "Twitter mailbag: Will Felix Hernandez pitch in the postseason if the Mariners make it? Cano to first base? And Magnum P.I.?," 9 July 2018

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


1828, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1871, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for sidetrack

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Time Traveler for sidetrack

The first known use of sidetrack was in 1828

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More Definitions for sidetrack



English Language Learners Definition of sidetrack

: to cause (someone) to talk about or do something different and less important

: to change the direction or use of (something)

: to prevent (something) from being dealt with


side·​track | \ˈsīd-ˌtrak \
sidetracked; sidetracking

Kids Definition of sidetrack

: to turn aside from a main purpose or direction Nick could launch a question guaranteed to sidetrack the teacher long enough to … wipe out the homework assignment.— Andrew Clements, Frindle

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More from Merriam-Webster on sidetrack

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sidetrack

Spanish Central: Translation of sidetrack

Nglish: Translation of sidetrack for Spanish Speakers

Comments on sidetrack

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


to make faulty or ineffective

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