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See more synonyms for detract on Thesaurus.com
verb (used without object)
  1. to take away a part, as from quality, value, or reputation (usually followed by from).
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verb (used with object)
  1. to draw away or divert; distract: to detract another's attention from more important issues.
  2. Archaic. to take away (a part); abate: The dilapidated barn detracts charm from the landscape.
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Origin of detract

1400–50; late Middle English (< Middle French detracter) < Latin dētractus drawn away (past participle of dētrahere), equivalent to dē- de- + tractus drawn; see tract1
Related formsde·tract·ing·ly, adverbde·trac·tor, nounun·de·tract·ing, adjectiveun·de·tract·ing·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for detractors

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • But even she had her detractors and none more bitter than the man who wronged her.

    The Strollers

    Frederic S. Isham

  • But he had his enemies and detractors as well as his friends.

  • Indeed, it increased rather than lessened the asperity of her detractors.

    Mary Wollstonecraft

    Elizabeth Robins Pennell

  • You are teaching your children to revere their memories, while all of their detractors are in oblivion.

    The Debs Decision

    Scott Nearing

  • It is not to be supposed that so successful a man had no detractors.

    A Girl of the Commune

    George Alfred Henty

British Dictionary definitions for detractors


  1. (when intr, usually foll by from) to take away a part (of); diminishher anger detracts from her beauty
  2. (tr) to distract or divert
  3. (tr) obsolete to belittle or disparage
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Derived Formsdetractingly, adverbdetractive or detractory, adjectivedetractively, adverbdetractor, noun

Word Origin

C15: from Latin dētractus drawn away, from dētrahere to pull away, disparage, from de- + trahere to drag


Detract is sometimes wrongly used where distract is meant: a noise distracted (not detracted) my attention
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

Word Origin and History for detractors



early 15c., from Middle French détracter, from Latin detractus, past participle of detrahere "to take down, pull down, disparage" (see detraction). Related: Detracted; detracting.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper