verb (used with object)

  1. to draw away or divert, as the mind or attention: The music distracted him from his work.
  2. to disturb or trouble greatly in mind; beset: Grief distracted him.
  3. to provide a pleasant diversion for; amuse; entertain: I’m bored with bridge, but golf still distracts me.
  4. to separate or divide by dissension or strife.


  1. Obsolete. distracted.

verb (tr)

  1. (often passive) to draw the attention of (a person) away from something
  2. to divide or confuse the attention of (a person)
  3. to amuse or entertain
  4. to trouble greatly
  5. to make mad

mid-14c., “to draw asunder or apart, to turn aside” (literal and figurative), from Latin distractus, past participle of distrahere “draw in different directions,” from dis- “away” (see dis-) + trahere “to draw” (see tract (n.1)).

Sense of “to throw into a state of mind in which one knows not how to act” is from 1580s. Related: Distracted; distracting; distractedly; distractedness.

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