tr.v. dis·tract·ed, dis·tract·ing, dis·tracts
1. To cause (someone) to have difficulty paying attention to something: The voices in the other room distracted him, so he couldn't concentrate on his homework.
2. To attract (the attention) away from its original focus; divert.
3. To cause to feel worried or uneasy; unsettle: The company's workforce was distracted by the prospect of a takeover.
[Middle English distracten, from Latin distrahere, distract-, to pull away : dis-, apart; see DIS- + trahere, to draw.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.