Definition of sidetrack in US English:



[with object]
  • 1Cause (someone) to be distracted from an immediate or important issue.

    ‘he does not let himself get sidetracked by fads and trends’
    • ‘Amy had expected one of his bright smiles, a twinkle in the eye, and a joyous ‘yes’; she didn't expect him to sidetrack the conversation completely.’
    • ‘He studied law at Palermo University, but like many of his background and generation he soon got sidetracked into the exciting world of political and literary romanticism.’
    • ‘You can't move forward or achieve your goals, if you become sidetracked by self-defeating behavior.’
    • ‘Terry was sidetracked by the sudden change of direction.’
    • ‘I used to train for competitions but was sidetracked after an injury.’
    • ‘I'm looking forward to that and don't intend to let anything sidetrack me.’
    • ‘I get sidetracked by minor distractions all the time (which is often fun), but if I really want something, I'll keep the goal in sight and eventually get there.’
    • ‘I got sidetracked in a debate with my wife about current events, and two hours later I realized that I would not be dumping my manifesto on the web.’
    • ‘He spends most of the novel being interrupted by everyone and having his conversations sidetracked and cut short.’
    • ‘As with many of Paisley's characters he is a lovable rogue, thoughtless but not cruel, well-meaning but easily sidetracked, a boy whose threadbare background has spelt out a future of meagre options, many of them criminal.’
    • ‘Apparently the sea views are spectacular too, though I was sidetracked somewhat by an astonishingly well-priced wine list, which the restaurateur himself imports.’
    • ‘Then, once you really believe in something, the key is to keep your head down and go for it, spurning any attempt to sidetrack you on the way.’
    • ‘It is easy to get sidetracked and distracted by events of apparent urgency but low importance.’
    • ‘But we can't do justice to Plato the philosopher if we are constantly sidetracked by speculations about whether Plato the man really lived up to his own teachings.’
    • ‘If the other person resists your message through blame, attack or excuses, try not to let it sidetrack you.’
    • ‘The body of the text, arranged in three segments, provides links in the sidebar that may sidetrack the reader through related concepts in other segments.’
    • ‘She was continuously sidetracked, however, as customers wandered in and out.’
    • ‘Then in 1960, a young graduate called Ted Nelson got sidetracked from his masters degree in sociology at Harvard into writing text - retrieval software.’
    • ‘I'd planned a quick stroll on the main route, but I keep getting sidetracked by spur paths leading to lovely, lonely beaches.’
    • ‘Like any good tutor, Aristotle allows you to get sidetracked from a lesson plan and follow your interests.’
    distract, put someone off their stroke, disturb someone's concentration, cause someone to lose their concentration, divert someone's attention
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    1. 1.1 Divert (a project or debate) away from a central issue or previously determined plan.
      ‘the effort at reform has been sidetracked for years’
      • ‘The immediate impact of his intervention was to sidetrack preventative campaigns.’
      • ‘As for Pat O'Shane, she maintains that continuing to focus on her controversial comments is sidetracking debate from big picture issues.’
      • ‘Second, funding for emergency responders has been sidetracked and stalled due to the politics of the appropriations process, the slow distribution of funds by federal agencies, and bureaucracy.’
      • ‘If I respond you have succeeded in sidetracking the debate.’
      • ‘This basic task gets sidetracked by the grandiose project of linking up the rivers.’
      • ‘It is unfortunate that in these last few months the debate on these matters has threatened to be sidetracked by those taking extreme positions that either excite irrational fears or promote unrealistic expectations.’
      • ‘When they finally reached him, he claimed that the project had been temporarily sidetracked by permit problems.’
      • ‘Plans for an initial public offering of Piaggio's shares in 2005 were sidetracked by the Aprilia acquisition.’
      • ‘But when Jacqueline's parents, who lived in Nashville, Tennessee, became ill, the Jacksons' financial plans were sidetracked.’
      • ‘Outwit your winter slump: here's how to prevent weather, stress, travel and fatigue from sidetracking your exercise - GetMotivated’
      • ‘Let's not get distracted by futile debates or sidetracked by issues that have been going on for centuries!’
      • ‘That movement, and the debate surrounding it, could completely sidetrack the issue of public safety on Whyte Avenue.’
      • ‘We cannot permit the discussion to be sidetracked into yet another sterile debate about human rights conceived in the abstract and unrelated to the concrete circumstances of the historical moment.’
      • ‘Katcha bounced up and down in her chair impatiently, refusing to let the question be sidetracked.’
      • ‘The dismissal comes after Tanaka's latest row with bureaucrats and their political backers threatened to sidetrack Koizumi's goal of economic reforms.’
      • ‘For supporters of the Illinois Central Railroad Project, money coming from Washington is only delayed now, not sidetracked.’
      • ‘Prodi's ambitious plans for EU expansion to the east will be sidetracked.’
      • ‘The principal objective was increasing productivity; the issue of the workers' right to determine how earnings were to be spent was sidetracked.’
      • ‘This examination, sidetracked by the Brooklyn crisis, will now resume, Friedman said, with concrete proposals to be presented to the city and mayor.’
      • ‘The formerly fast tracked Lords of Dogtown film project is now said to be sidetracked.’
      distract, divert, deflect, draw away, lead away, turn aside, head off
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  • 2North American Direct (a train) into a branch line or siding.

    • ‘It pulled out of here at 4:20, right on time, and made a quick run down across the meadows, intending to sidetrack at West Canaan for both passenger trains.’
    • ‘Some railroads agreed to carry vagabonds free: most rail managers resisted, using force to expel tramps from trains and sometimes sidetracking trains carrying large numbers of them to remote areas.’
    • ‘Had it possibly been sidetracked for some reason in order to allow the slower train to go past?’
    1. 2.1 Divert (a well or borehole) to reach a productive deposit or to avoid an obstruction.
      • ‘These rigs are used to perform a variety of completion, workover and maintenance services, such as installations, completions, assisting with perforating, removing defective equipment and sidetracking wells.’
      • ‘We also install whipstocks to sidetrack wells, provide plugging and abandonment services, pipe recovery and wireline recovery services, foam services and casing patch installation.’
      • ‘More work needs to be done to prove the commercial significance of the find, with the project's partners to spend an additional $3 million on sidetracking the well.’


  • 1A minor path or track.

    • ‘Interestingly, in one of my classes at university on Thursday we discussed the elections for a few brief minutes as a sidetrack.’
    • ‘Fortunately, only a small part of the narrative is taken up by it, and the real delight of the book is its frequent sidetracks into the biology, culture, lore, and politics of birds.’
    • ‘He tied me up in knots and deflected what I felt were the real issues with sidetracks and tangents.’
    • ‘You've got me off on a sidetrack, you rascals!’
    • ‘By the time Grandpa finishes his story, he's wandered down sidetracks, lost a few of the kids to sleep and even managed to lose his own place more than once.’
    • ‘She was brought out of her weird sidetrack by a serious question.’
    • ‘It wouldn't do to go off on a sidetrack when the important thing to get done was finding the baby.’
    • ‘Next, if you do want to go off on a sidetrack away from your original purpose, set a time limit.’
    • ‘Elsewhere, an elevator and two miles of sidetrack are under construction at Highmore, N.D., and should be ready for the fall harvest season.’
    • ‘I've had to learn to see double, keeping the big ball rolling while juggling a full complement of sidetracks and minor emergencies.’
    • ‘We walked down one side track and, though it was the quiet time of day, a flock of warblers readily responded to pygmy-owl calls.’
    • ‘Before we go on, however, allow me a quick sidetrack.’
    • ‘Blogs are often a great thing, but they can prove to be a sidetrack, and sometimes they produce an over-simplification of political analysis which is even worse than the one customarily supplied by ‘real’ papers.’
    • ‘As this brief synopsis should make clear, Viladesau's book is full of tantalizing lines of thought and many interesting sidetracks.’
    • ‘Two hunters happen to be nearby and they motion for me to follow them down a sidetrack.’
    • ‘After following a narrow gravel road for about 200 metres we took off down a side track.’
    • ‘Lee whipped his BMW into the short sidetrack off the Pallisades Parkway and stopped along the rail at the top of the cliff.’
    • ‘With the drop-down menu of indexes along the side of the screen, it is easy to get back to where one started after wandering away following the sidetracks of intriguing links.’
    • ‘As a sidetrack, I might mention that my post of two days ago was my thousandth… yep, this one will be number 1003.’
    • ‘An interesting sidetrack: enemies are incredibly stupid when it comes to damage control and emergency actions.’
    footpath, pathway, footway, pavement, track, jogging track, trail, trackway, bridleway, bridle path, ride, riding, towpath, walk, walkway, promenade, esplanade, avenue, lane, alley, alleyway, passage, passageway, byway, sidetrack, berm, causeway, right of way
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    1. 1.1North American A railroad branch line or siding.
      • ‘One of the major disadvantages of rail transport is that a fast train cannot run on the same line as a suburban, stopping slow train without sidetracks and expensive signalling.’
      • ‘The conductor told us to lock the cabins and not let anyone inside unless he told us to because thieves pretending to be police quite often preyed on the sleeping cars parked in the sidetracks.’
      • ‘Between this building and the main track, over which passenger trains usually run, is a side track connecting with the main track east, but not west.’
      • ‘Admit that it was the carelessness of the company's agents, in leaving the switch open, that threw the train upon the side track.’
    2. 1.2 A well or borehole which runs partly to one side of the original line of drilling.
      • ‘The drilling of a well after a slot reclamation (which previously had a well) is considered a sidetrack.’
      • ‘If a sidetrack is made to bypass an obstruction while the surface and target locations remain the same this is called a mechanical sidetrack.’
      • ‘An existing well, drilled with a section through a tight sand interval was judged unlikely to fully drain the panel, so a sidetrack with an openhole drain length of 1,000 m was drilled from the 7-in. liner using an intermediate radius curve’