a. The act of drawing or pulling, especially the drawing of a vehicle or load over a surface by motor power.
b. The condition of being drawn or pulled.
2. Pulling power, as of a draft animal or engine.
3. Adhesive friction, as of a wheel on a track or a tire on a road.
4. 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.
5. Informal Impetus or advancement, as toward a desired result: The bill gained traction in the Senate and was passed by a large majority.
[Medieval Latin tractiō, tractiōn-, from Latin tractus, past participle of trahere, to pull, draw.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 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.