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

  • n. The act of drawing or pulling, especially the drawing of a vehicle or load over a surface by motor power.
  • n. The condition of being drawn or pulled.
  • n. Pulling power, as of a draft animal or engine.
  • n. Adhesive friction, as of a wheel on a track or a tire on a road.
  • n. Medicine A sustained pull applied mechanically especially to the arm, leg, or neck so as to correct fractured or dislocated bones, overcome muscle spasms, or relieve pressure.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. the act of pulling something along a surface using motive power
  • n. the condition of being so pulled
  • n. Grip
  • n. the pulling power of an engine or animal
  • n. the adhesive friction of a wheel etc on a surface
  • n. a mechanically applied sustained pull, especially to a limb
  • n. the extent of adoption of a new product or service, typically measured in number of customers or level of revenue achieved
  • n. popular support

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The act of drawing, or the state of being drawn.
  • n. Specifically, the act of drawing a body along a plane by motive power, as the drawing of a carriage by men or horses, the towing of a boat by a tug.
  • n. Attraction; a drawing toward.
  • n. The adhesive friction of a wheel on a rail, a rope on a pulley, or the like.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In recent use, traffic by means of railroads; railroads, and especially streetrailroads, collectively; the interests and rights represented by such railroads.
  • n. The act of drawing, or the state of being drawn; specifically, in physiology, contraction, as of a muscle.
  • n. The act of drawing a body along a surface, as over water or on a railway.
  • n. Attraction; attractive power or influence.
  • n. The adhesive friction of a body or object, as of a wheel on a rail or a rope on a pulley.
  • n. An action the negative of pressure.
  • n. In physiology, the axis or direction of the tractive action of a muscle; the line in which a muscle contracts.

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

  • n. the friction between a body and the surface on which it moves (as between an automobile tire and the road)
  • n. (orthopedics) the act of pulling on a bone or limb (as in a fracture) to relieve pressure or align parts in a special way during healing


Medieval Latin tractiō, tractiōn-, from Latin tractus, past participle of trahere, to pull, draw.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin tractus, perfect passive participle of verb trahere ("pull"), + noun of action suffix -io (genitive -ionis). (Wiktionary)



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  • Also, approval or acceptance. To gain traction.

    "The new initiative is gaining traction in the Senate."

    May 14, 2009