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  1. having the attention diverted: She tossed several rocks to the far left and slipped past the distracted sentry.
  2. rendered incapable of behaving, reacting, etc., in a normal manner, as by worry, remorse, or the like; irrational; disturbed.

Origin of distracted

First recorded in 1580–90; distract + -ed2
Related formsdis·tract·ed·ly, adverbdis·tract·ed·ness, nounnon·dis·tract·ed, adjectivenon·dis·tract·ed·ly, adverbun·dis·tract·ed, adjectiveun·dis·tract·ed·ly, adverbun·dis·tract·ed·ness, noun


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.

Origin of distract

1350–1400; Middle English < Latin distractus (past participle of distrahere to draw apart), equivalent to dis- dis-1 + trac- (variant stem of trahere to draw) + -tus past participle suffix
Related formsdis·tract·i·ble, adjectivedis·tract·ing·ly, adverbnon·dis·tract·ing, adjectivenon·dis·tract·ing·ly, adverbun·dis·tract·ing, adjectiveun·dis·tract·ing·ly, adverb

Synonyms for distract

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Historical Examples of distracted

British Dictionary definitions for distracted


  1. bewildered; confused
  2. mad
Derived Formsdistractedly, adverbdistractedness, noun


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
Derived Formsdistracter, noundistractible, adjectivedistractibility, noundistracting, adjectivedistractingly, adverbdistractive, adjectivedistractively, adverb

Word Origin for distract

C14: from Latin distractus perplexed, from distrahere to pull in different directions, from dis- 1 + trahere to drag
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 distracted



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper