Definition of traction in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈtrakSH(ə)n/


1The action of drawing or pulling a thing over a surface, especially a road or track: a primitive vehicle used in animal traction
More example sentences
  • Loss of animal traction resulted in decreased production intensity, as did loss of labor power through migration, conscription, and death.
  • Most Romano-British farmsteads were mixed, dependent on animals for manure, traction, dairy products, wool, hides, and meat.
  • To facilitate animal traction, migrants cut down big trees, cleared bamboo bushes, and uprooted stumps.
1.1Motive power provided for movement, especially on a railroad: the changeover to diesel and electric traction
More example sentences
  • Mourning in anticipation, 71 railway enthusiasts took steam's eclipse by diesel and electric traction to be history's greatest betrayal.
  • Pictures, diagrams, tables and models are used to explain the evolution of engines from steam through diesel to electric traction.
  • It made little difference whether the rolling stock in question was for high or low-speed operation or whether it was made use of diesel or electric traction.
1.2Locomotives collectively.
Example sentences
  • Colin, a retired traction and rolling stock engineer, and his wife aim to complete more than 30,000 miles of their epic odyssey by train.
  • The interactive museum would have featured all elements of steam technology from steam boats to steam traction and trains.
  • It's pulled by a diesel engine today but there is a strong movement to reintroduce steam traction.
2The grip of a tire on a road or a wheel on a rail: his car hit a patch of ice and lost traction
More example sentences
  • On a simple two-wheel drive car, traction control selects the wheel with the most grip in a loss-of-grip situation and gives it more power.
  • Also standard are dual-stage driver and front-passenger airbags and traction control.
  • Alloy wheels, traction control and a cassette player come as standard.
grip, purchase, friction, adhesion
3The extent to which a product, idea, etc., gains popularity or acceptance: analysts predicted that the technology would rapidly gain traction in the corporate market if a film got a little traction, a wider release could be negotiated
More example sentences
  • The advocates of disengagement have yet to gain traction.
  • Not only are introductions in order, you should also give the fresh acquaintances a little traction to get their friendship rolling merrily along.
  • His approach has started to gain traction in Europe.
4 Medicine The application of a sustained pull on a limb or muscle, especially in order to maintain the position of a fractured bone or to correct a deformity: his leg is in traction
More example sentences
  • Dancers now jump higher, pirouette more times - more than the naked eye can count - and spend hours in traction to stretch their limbs and torsos a centimetre or two more.
  • The new Hodgen splint held a limb in traction while a wound was dressed, a critical innovation on the battlefield.
  • The procedure still requires a major surgery to insert the pins and rods to hold the bones in traction.


Late Middle English (denoting contraction, such as that of a muscle): from French, or from medieval Latin traction-, from Latin trahere 'draw, pull'. Current senses date from the early 19th century.

Words that rhyme with traction

abstraction, action, attraction, benefaction, compaction, contraction, counteraction, diffraction, enaction, exaction, extraction, faction, fraction, interaction, liquefaction, malefaction, petrifaction, proaction, protraction, putrefaction, redaction, retroaction, satisfaction, stupefaction, subtraction, transaction, tumefaction, vitrifaction

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: trac·tion

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