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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English tract, tracte, traht (a treatise, exposition, commentary), from Old English traht, tract (a treatise, exposition, commentary, text, passage); and also from Middle English tract, tracte (an expanse of space or time); both from Latin tractus (a haul, drawing, a drawing out), the perfect passive participle of trahō. Doublet of trait.


tract (plural tracts)

  1. An area or expanse.
    an unexplored tract of sea
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book I”, in Paradise Lost. [], London: [] [Samuel Simmons], [], →OCLC; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, →OCLC:
      the deep tract of hell
    • 1705, J[oseph] Addison, Remarks on Several Parts of Italy, &c. in the Years 1701, 1702, 1703, London: [] Jacob Tonson, [], →OCLC:
      a very high mountain joined to the mainland by a narrow tract of earth
    • a. 1662 (date written), Thomas Fuller, The History of the Worthies of England, London: [] J[ohn] G[rismond,] W[illiam] L[eybourne] and W[illiam] G[odbid], published 1662, →OCLC:
      small tracks of ground
  2. (anatomy) A series of connected body organs, such as the digestive tract.
  3. A small booklet such as a pamphlet, often for promotional or informational uses.
  4. A brief treatise or discourse on a subject.
  5. A commentator's view or perspective on a subject.
  6. Continued or protracted duration, length, extent
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book V”, in Paradise Lost. [], London: [] [Samuel Simmons], [], →OCLC; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, →OCLC:
      improved by tract of time
    • 1843 April, Thomas Carlyle, “ch. XIV, Henry of Essex”, in Past and Present, American edition, Boston, Mass.: Charles C[offin] Little and James Brown, published 1843, →OCLC, book II (The Ancient Monk):
      Nay, in another case of litigation, the unjust Standard bearer, for his own profit, asserting that the cause belonged not to St. Edmund’s Court, but to his in Lailand Hundred, involved us in travellings and innumerable expenses, vexing the servants of St. Edmund for a long tract of time []
  7. (Roman Catholicism) Part of the proper of the liturgical celebration of the Eucharist for many Christian denominations, used instead of the alleluia during Lenten or pre-Lenten seasons, in a Requiem Mass, and on a few other penitential occasions.
  8. (obsolete) Continuity or extension of anything.
    • 1669, William Holder, Elements of Speech:
      in tract of speech
  9. (obsolete) Traits; features; lineaments.
    • 1625, Francis [Bacon], “Of Simulation and Dissimulation”, in The Essayes [], 3rd edition, London: [] Iohn Haviland for Hanna Barret, →OCLC:
      The discovery of a man's self by the tracts of his countenance is a great weakness.
  10. (obsolete) The footprint of a wild animal.
  11. (obsolete) Track; trace.
  12. (obsolete) Treatment; exposition.
  • (series of connected body organs): system
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Etymology 2[edit]

From Latin tractus, the participle stem of trahere (to pull, drag).


tract (third-person singular simple present tracts, present participle tracting, simple past and past participle tracted)

  1. (obsolete) To pursue, follow; to track.
  2. (obsolete) To draw out; to protract.
    • 1616, Benjamin Jonson [i.e., Ben Jonson], “Of The Art of Poetry”, in The Workes of Ben Jonson (First Folio), London: [] Will[iam] Stansby, →OCLC:
      Speak to me , muse , the man , who after Troy was sack'd , Saw many towns and men , and could their manners tract.




Borrowed from English tract.



tract m (plural tracts)

  1. flyer, circular, pamphlet

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