In medicine, traction is the act of pulling on bones or limbs in a certain way to help with healing. An arm in traction is temporarily tied up, but it is probably on the mend.

A person in traction is presently immobile, but traction can also be used to describe the state of an object being pulled, or the friction between that object and the surface it is pulled across. Traction can also refer to something or someone that has picked up movement, like an idea or a candidate. If your idea for chocolate covered onions has gained traction, it is becoming popular; if it has lost traction, people have come to their senses.

Definitions of traction
  1. noun
    the friction between a body and the surface on which it moves (as between an automobile tire and the road)
    synonyms: adhesive friction, grip
    see moresee less
    type of:
    friction, rubbing
    the resistance encountered when one body is moved in contact with another
  2. noun
    (orthopedics) the act of pulling on a bone or limb (as in a fracture) to relieve pressure or align parts in a special way during healing
    “his leg was in traction for several days”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    pull, pulling
    the act of pulling; applying force to move something toward or with you
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week