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See more synonyms for sidetrack on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with or without object)
  1. to move from the main track to a siding, as a train.
  2. to move or distract from the main subject or course.
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  1. any railroad track, other than a siding, auxiliary to the main track.
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Origin of sidetrack

An Americanism dating back to 1825–35; side1 + track
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for sidetrack

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Would it advance or sidetrack him in the career he had outlined for himself?

    The Octopus

    Frank Norris

  • You've not been paying proper attention to me; you were off on a sidetrack of your own laying.

    The Brentons

    Anna Chapin Ray

  • At Wassiwappa, Ray got instructions to sidetrack until Thirty-six went by.

    Song of the Lark

    Willa Cather

  • You have one talent already; why do you want to follow a sidetrack.

    The Precipice

    Ivan Goncharov

  • We became attached to this sidetrack, and for a long time had the sole use of it.

British Dictionary definitions for sidetrack


  1. to distract or be distracted from a main subject or topic
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  1. US and Canadian a railway siding
  2. the act or an instance of sidetracking; digression
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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 sidetrack


also side-track, "railway siding," 1835, from side (adj.) + track (n.). The verb meaning "to move (a train car) onto a sidetrack" is from 1874; figurative sense of "to divert from the main purpose" is attested from 1881. Related: Sidetracked.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper