• synonyms


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.
Show More
  1. Obsolete. distracted.
Show More

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

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

Examples from the Web for distractingly

Historical Examples of distractingly

  • Ah, that was distractingly complicated, that way of sitting down.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

  • I shall be distractingly fond of frills all the rest of my life.

  • She powdered her nose and looked penitent and distractingly pretty.

    Affinities and Other Stories

    Mary Roberts Rinehard

  • I'd no idea how to stop the thing Which now distractingly began to ring.

    Home Lyrics

    Hannah S. Battersby

  • He had not forgotten how distractingly pretty she was when she blushed.

    The Road to Understanding

    Eleanor H. Porter

British Dictionary definitions for distractingly


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
Show More
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 distractingly



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.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper