Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To cause to turn away from the original focus of attention or interest; divert.
  • transitive v. To pull in conflicting emotional directions; unsettle.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To divert the attention of.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Separated; drawn asunder.
  • adj. Insane; mad.
  • transitive v. To draw apart or away; to divide; to disjoin.
  • transitive v. To draw (the sight, mind, or attention) in different directions; to perplex; to confuse
  • transitive v. To agitate by conflicting passions, or by a variety of motives or of cares; to confound; to harass.
  • transitive v. To unsettle the reason of; to render insane; to craze; to madden; -- most frequently used in the participle, distracted.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To draw apart; pull in different directions and separate; divide.
  • To turn or draw away from any object; divert from any point toward another point, or toward various other objects: as, to distract a person's attention from his occupation.
  • To cause distraction in; draw in different directions or toward different objects; confuse by diverse or opposing considerations; perplex; bewilder: as, to distract the mind with cares.
  • To disorder the reason of; derange; render frantic or mad.
  • Distracted; frantic; deranged: same as distraught.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. draw someone's attention away from something
  • v. disturb in mind or make uneasy or cause to be worried or alarmed

Etymologies

Middle English distracten, from Latin distrahere, distract-, to pull away : dis-, apart; see dis- + trahere, to draw.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin distrahere ("to pull apart"), from dis- + trahere ("to pull"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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