Definition of distract in English:



  • 1 Prevent (someone) from giving full attention to something.

    ‘don't allow noise to distract you from your work’
    ‘she found his nearness distracting’
    • ‘For the most part the colors and image are solid, with little to distract the viewer.’
    • ‘I did notice a small amount of softness in one scene, though it won't be distracting to the viewing.’
    • ‘Reverting back to a glossary distracts a reader from concentrating on the science in an article.’
    • ‘In truth, the emphasis on individual feelings distracts people from thinking about and caring for their communities.’
    • ‘There is some softness to the image that becomes a bit distracting at times.’
    • ‘I have to admit, while a nice attempt, it is a bit distracting at times.’
    • ‘And I believe this devotion to sport distracts people from their own lives, making it by definition an opiate of masses.’
    • ‘The latter keeps the display from distracting the driver when he should be concentrating on more important tasks.’
    • ‘And there's no perfect person who's going to distract you long enough.’
    • ‘Now I'm rambling, but these thoughts distract me from concentrating on my work and I must let them out.’
    • ‘For a split second utter confusion distracted me from my misery.’
    • ‘It distracted him enough to prevent a quick victory, but not enough to let Jeremy win.’
    • ‘However, Coleman's limited critique should not distract readers from recognizing the broader legal landscape depicted in the article.’
    • ‘The color should not distract your reader from the main points of your site.’
    • ‘I don't know if we've got enough bananas to distract him.’
    • ‘Traci distracted the ref and Douglas hit Daniels with a chain.’
    • ‘A small amount of softness permeates the image, though overall it's never overly distracting to the viewing.’
    • ‘The police have even condemned certain billboard adverts for distracting drivers resulting in more crashes.’
    • ‘You may be able to prevent your child from having an outburst by distracting him or her with toys or other activities.’
    • ‘The more extraneous items you cram on a web page, the more you confuse and distract the visitor.’
    divert, deflect, sidetrack, turn aside, turn away, draw away
    disturb, put off, cause to lose concentration
    disturbing, unsettling, intrusive, disconcerting, bothersome, confusing
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Divert (attention) from something.
      ‘it was another attempt to distract attention from the truth’
      • ‘A large rumbling noise distracted their attention for a moment.’
      • ‘The shovel fell and clattered to the floor behind the monster, whose attention was momentarily distracted.’
      • ‘The videos apparently distract the viewer's attention from the song to the meaningless portrayal of carnal desires.’
      • ‘The use of fashions in thought is to distract the attention of men from their real dangers.’
      • ‘Don't let the infamous bag lady distract your attention from the real issues.’
      • ‘The argument of menfolk in not allowing women to enter the mosque is that this will distract the attention of men.’
      • ‘Women have reason to be relieved that Parliament's attention was distracted.’
      • ‘As traffic safety managers see it, the use of a cellphone distracts the attention of the driver from the main task of driving.’
      • ‘At the same time, we should not allow it to distract attention from the need for reform of the SIS's general oversight provisions.’
      • ‘They suffer from a semi-religious monomania which distracts attention from the major issues in their field.’
      • ‘Milling over the thought too much would distract my attention so I averted myself back to the problem at hand.’
      • ‘Some were suggesting that his interest was overblown to distract attention from the company's poor trading statement.’
      • ‘Remember, Gilligan made possible Alastair Campbell's diversionary tactic that distracted attention from the argument about the need for war.’
      • ‘The kind of event meant to distract from a glaring budget fact.’
      • ‘He's only trying to distract attention from all his problems at home.’
      • ‘There is always a danger that new hi-tech systems will distract attention and divert energies from effective policing.’
      • ‘Striking the martyr pose is good public relations because it distracts attention from the real issues.’
      • ‘It has nearly caused three accidents already because it distracts motorists' attention.’
      • ‘The people, however, provided enough colour in the way they dressed to distract my attention from the rundown streets.’
      • ‘"It distracts from the real issues facing our community, " he says.’
    2. 1.2Divert one's attention from something worrying or unpleasant by doing something different or more pleasurable.
      ‘I tried to distract myself by concentrating on Jane’
      • ‘You are thinking incredibly wrongly and are only distracting yourself from enjoying the rest of this.’
      • ‘The rest of the time I kept on distracting myself by looking at the trees through the big window behind her.’
      • ‘They walked in silence into the woods, and Jonathon focused most of his attention on the scenery to distract himself.’
      • ‘Don't waste energy fruitlessly pursuing it; distract yourself with something productive, be it whittling, knitting or washing dishes.’
      • ‘The day, or the week, is spent distracting myself.’
      • ‘Sometimes all you can do is distract yourself until it passes.’
      • ‘I was distracting myself from utter frustration with a project and surfing the blogroll.’
      • ‘So anyway, I distracted myself until I decided that the distraction could be a school in and of itself.’
      • ‘I found this while distracting myself at my friend Jas's site.’
      • ‘So, are you so over-committed because you're distracting yourself from the absurdity and meaninglessness of life?’
    3. 1.3archaic Perplex and bewilder.
      ‘horror and doubt distract His troubl'd thoughts’


Late Middle English (also in the sense pull in different directions): from Latin distract- drawn apart from the verb distrahere, from dis- apart + trahere to draw, drag.