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[trak-shuh n] /ˈtræk ʃən/
the adhesive friction of a body on some surface, as a wheel on a rail or a tire on a road.
the action of drawing a body, vehicle, train, or the like, along a surface, as a road, track, railroad, or waterway.
Medicine/Medical. the deliberate and prolonged pulling of a muscle, organ, or the like, as by weights, to correct dislocation, relieve pressure, etc.
transportation by means of railroads.
the act of drawing or pulling.
the state of being drawn.
attracting power or influence; attraction.
Origin of traction
1605-15; < Medieval Latin tractiōn- (stem of tractiō) act of drawing, equivalent to tract(us), past participle of trahere to draw + -iōn- -ion
Related forms
tractional, adjective
nontraction, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for traction
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The next step forward was to substitute for horses a traction engine.

    The Age of Invention Holland Thompson
  • Its blocks and traction ropes are arranged as described above.

  • Hence three traction ropes are fastened at the top of the machine.

  • The power of a traction sprayer is developed from the wheels.

    Apple Growing M. C. Burritt
  • Its towing power in the water, and that of traction on dry land, is astonishing.

    The Western World W.H.G. Kingston
British Dictionary definitions for traction


the act of drawing or pulling, esp by motive power
the state of being drawn or pulled
(med) the application of a steady pull on a part during healing of a fractured or dislocated bone, using a system of weights and pulleys or splints
the adhesive friction between a wheel and a surface, as between a driving wheel of a motor vehicle and the road
Derived Forms
tractional, adjective
tractive (ˈtræktɪv) adjective
Word Origin
C17: from Medieval Latin tractiō, from Latin tractus dragged; see tractile
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for traction

early 15c., "a drawing or pulling" (originally the pulling of a dislocated limb to reposition it), from Medieval Latin tractionem (nominative tractio) "a drawing" (mid-13c.), noun of action from past participle stem of Latin trahere "to pull, draw" (see tract (n.1)). Sense of "rolling friction of a vehicle" first appears 1825.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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traction in Medicine

traction trac·tion (trāk'shən)

  1. The act of drawing or pulling.

  2. A pulling force.

  3. A sustained pull applied mechanically, especially to the arm, leg, or neck, to correct fractured or dislocated bones, to overcome muscle spasms, or to relieve pressure.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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traction in Science
  1. Static friction, as of a wheel on a track or a tire on a road. See more at friction.

  2. A sustained pulling force applied mechanically to a part of the body by means of a weighted apparatus in order to correct the position of fractured or dislocated bones, especially of the arm, leg, or neck.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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