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.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.