trac·​tion | \ ˈtrak-shən How to pronounce traction (audio) \

Definition of traction

1a : the adhesive friction of a body on a surface on which it moves the traction of a wheel on a rail
b : a pulling force exerted on a skeletal structure (as in a fracture) by means of a special device a traction splint also : a state of tension created by such a pulling force a leg in traction
2 : the act of drawing : the state of being drawn also : the force exerted in drawing
3 : the support or interest that is needed for something to make progress or succeed a product that is starting to gain traction among consumers … the litmus test issues of abortion and gay marriage have been losing traction, subordinated to the Iraq war and terrorism.— Thomas B. Edsall As many economists have noted, cutting spending is the worst thing people with means can do for the economy right now. But that argument seems to have little traction, especially because even those with steady paychecks and no fear of losing their job have seen their net worth decline and their retirement savings evaporate.— Shaila Dewan
4 : the drawing of a vehicle by motive power also : the motive power employed

Other Words from traction

tractional \ ˈtrak-​shnəl How to pronounce traction (audio) , -​shə-​nᵊl \ adjective

Did you know?

A tractor is something that pulls something else. We usually use the word for a piece of farm machinery, but it's also the name of the part of a big truck that includes the engine and the cab. Tractors get terrific traction, because of their powerful engines and the deep ridges on their huge wheels. A cross-country skier needs traction to kick herself forward, but doesn't want it to slow her down when she's gliding, so the bottom of the skis may have a "fish-scale" surface that permits both of these at the same time.

Examples of traction in a Sentence

These tires get good traction on wet roads. A patch of ice caused the car to lose traction. She was in traction for three weeks after she broke her hip. The bill failed to gain traction in the Senate. We didn't get traction on this idea until the board took interest.
Recent Examples on the Web As the metaverse continues to gain traction, though, the paper shows that users should be wary of how much of their data is being silently harvested–and by whom. Dylan Sloan, Forbes, 9 Aug. 2022 While this technology has struggled to gain traction because of high costs, Mr. Jenkins’s modeling suggests that new tax credits could help spur the capture of roughly 200 million tons of carbon dioxide by 2030. New York Times, 2 Aug. 2022 On Monday, one of his sons brought up the incident to his mother when the video started to gain traction online. Marlene Lenthang, NBC News, 29 July 2022 But the company’s alternatives to third-party cookies have been taking longer than expected to develop and gain traction. Michael Kan, PCMAG, 28 July 2022 Florida State continued to gain traction on the recruiting trail after receiving a verbal commitment from 4-star offensive lineman Lucas Simmons. Matt Murschel, Orlando Sentinel, 11 July 2022 And while Republicans could be pushed away from flat-out bans because of their unpopularity, more tailored bans could gain traction. Cheyenne Haslett, ABC News, 2 July 2022 After Siwa's TikTok gained traction, Cameron Bure — who also had a very public meeting with Siwa on The Kelly Clarkson Show in 2019 — posted a video on Instagram explaining her side of the story. Dory Jackson,, 29 July 2022 The humidity hovered between 5% and 10% at the time the Oak Fire gained traction, according to Cal Fire. Julia Jacobo, ABC News, 26 July 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'traction.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of traction

1608, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for traction

Medieval Latin traction-, tractio, from Latin trahere

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Time Traveler for traction

Time Traveler

The first known use of traction was in 1608

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Dictionary Entries Near traction

tract index


traction engine

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Statistics for traction

Last Updated

12 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Traction.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for traction


trac·​tion | \ ˈtrak-shən How to pronounce traction (audio) \

Kids Definition of traction

: the force that causes a moving thing to slow down or to stick against the surface it is moving along The wheels get more traction when the road is dry.


trac·​tion | \ ˈtrak-shən How to pronounce traction (audio) \

Medical Definition of traction

1 : the pulling of or tension established in one body part by another
2 : a pulling force exerted on a skeletal structure (as in a fracture) by means of a special device or apparatus a traction splint also : a state of tension created by such a pulling force a leg in traction

More from Merriam-Webster on traction

Nglish: Translation of traction for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of traction for Arabic Speakers


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