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From the past participle stem of Latin prōtrahō, essentially pro- +‎ tract.



protract (third-person singular simple present protracts, present participle protracting, simple past and past participle protracted)

  1. To draw out; to extend, especially in duration.
    • 1591, William Shakespeare, “The First Part of Henry the Sixt”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act I, scene ii]:
      Doubtless he shrives this woman to her smock;
      Else ne'er could he so long protract his speech.
    • 1755, Samuel Johnson, A Dictionary of the English Language, London: J. and P. Knapton et al., Volume 1, Preface,[1]
      I have protracted my work till most of those whom I wished to please, have sunk into the grave []
    • Template:RQ:Charlotte Brontë Jane Eyre
    • 1979, Angela Carter, “The Tiger’s Bride” in Burning Your Boats: The Collected Short Stories, New York: Henry Holt, 1996, p. 165,[2]
      A bereft landscape of sad browns and sepias of winter lay all about us, the marshland drearily protracting itself towards the wide river.
    • 2010, Christopher Hitchens, ‘The Men Who Made England’, The Atlantic, Mar 2010:
      Still, from these extraordinary pages you can learn that it's very bad to be burned alive on a windy day, because the breeze will keep flicking the flames away from you and thus protract the process.
  2. To use a protractor.
  3. (surveying) To draw to a scale; to lay down the lines and angles of, with scale and protractor; to plot.
    • 1856, Richard Francis Burton, Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to El Medinah and Meccah, London: Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans, Volume 3, Chapter 25, page 147, footnote,[3]
      This is a synopsis of our marches, which, protracted on Burckhardt’s map, gives an error of ten miles.
  4. To put off to a distant time; to delay; to defer.
    to protract a decision or duty
  5. To extend; to protrude.
    A cat can protract and retract its claws.


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