Definition of distract in English:

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Pronunciation: /dəˈstrakt/


[with object]
1Prevent (someone) from giving full attention to something: don’t allow noise to distract you from your work (as adjective distracting) she found his nearness distracting
More example sentences
  • Reverting back to a glossary distracts a reader from concentrating on the science in an article.
  • It distracted him enough to prevent a quick victory, but not enough to let Jeremy win.
  • Now I'm rambling, but these thoughts distract me from concentrating on my work and I must let them out.
divert, sidetrack, draw away, disturb, put off
disturbing, unsettling, intrusive, disconcerting, bothersome, off-putting
1.1Divert (attention) from something: it was another attempt to distract attention from the truth
More example sentences
  • There is always a danger that new hi-tech systems will distract attention and divert energies from effective policing.
  • Remember, Gilligan made possible Alastair Campbell's diversionary tactic that distracted attention from the argument about the need for war.
  • The use of fashions in thought is to distract the attention of men from their real dangers.
1.2 (distract oneself) Divert one’s attention from something worrying or unpleasant by doing something different or more pleasurable: I tried to distract myself by concentrating on Jane
More example sentences
  • They walked in silence into the woods, and Jonathon focused most of his attention on the scenery to distract himself.
  • So, are you so over-committed because you're distracting yourself from the absurdity and meaninglessness of life?
  • You are thinking incredibly wrongly and are only distracting yourself from enjoying the rest of this.
1.3 archaic Perplex and bewilder: horror and doubt distract His troubl’d thoughts


Late Middle English (also in the sense 'pull in different directions'): from Latin distract- 'drawn apart', from the verb distrahere, from dis- 'apart' + trahere 'to draw, drag'.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: dis·tract

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