traction

noun
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

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Other Words from traction

tractional \ ˈtrak-​shnəl How to pronounce tractional (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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Ivanka Trump was an especially important advocate of the Investing in Opportunity Act, which was first proposed under the Obama administration but never gained traction then. Emily Stewart, Vox, "Ivanka Trump reportedly advocated for a tax break she and Jared Kushner could profit from," 12 Dec. 2018 But in the late ‘00s, as Google’s power grew, one complaint started to gain traction. Adi Robertson, The Verge, "The long, tortured quest to make Google unbiased," 6 Dec. 2018 Credit-card penetration in China, however, is low compared with the U.S. Apple’s own digital-wallet service, Apple Pay, has also failed to gain traction in the country since its launch three years ago. Stella Yifan Xie, WSJ, "Apple to Chinese Consumers: Buy a New iPhone for Under $30 a Month, Interest Free," 21 Feb. 2019 Blending hearing and deaf actors in the same production has gained traction in Seattle theaters. Misha Berson, The Seattle Times, "Here’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ like you’ve never seen it, with the star-crossed lovers bridging the gap between American Sign Language and English," 20 Feb. 2019 Since #MeToo gained traction in 2017, wearing all black has been a common way for people to show solidarity with the movement. Alyssa Hardy, Teen Vogue, "People Are Wearing Black to Support Women Accusing Brett Kavanaugh of Sexual Assault," 24 Sep. 2018 The company also reflects an idea that has been gaining traction in the burgeoning startup universe: Art and technology can work together in developing ideas for businesses that can make money while serving the larger good. Jonathan M. Pitts, baltimoresun.com, "Baltimore startup blends art and technology in helping amputees design personalized prosthetic covers," 6 Apr. 2018 Straight-line traction is important, but turning can be nice, too. Ezra Dyer, Popular Mechanics, "Why the New Jeep Wrangler's Turbocharged Four-Cylinder Engine Is Totally Worth the Extra Money," 13 Feb. 2019 Adam Silver’s consideration for seeding the playoffs by record after eight from each conference qualify — a move that would have to be ratified by two-thirds of the 30 teams — may gain some traction. K.c. Johnson, chicagotribune.com, "LeBron James jumps to the Lakers, throwing the Eastern Conference wide open," 1 July 2018

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.

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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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Learn More about traction

Statistics for traction

Last Updated

21 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for traction

The first known use of traction was in 1608

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More Definitions for traction

traction

noun

English Language Learners Definition of traction

: the force that causes a moving thing to stick against the surface it is moving along
: the power that is used to pull something
medical : a way of treating broken bones in which a device gently pulls the bones back into place

traction

noun
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.

traction

noun
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

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More from Merriam-Webster on traction

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with traction

Spanish Central: Translation of traction

Nglish: Translation of traction for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of traction for Arabic Speakers

Comments on traction

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