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tract1

[trakt] /trækt/
noun
1.
an expanse or area of land, water, etc.; region; stretch.
2.
Anatomy.
  1. a definite region or area of the body, especially a group, series, or system of related parts or organs:
    the digestive tract.
  2. a bundle of nerve fibers having a common origin and destination.
3.
a stretch or period of time; interval; lapse.
4.
Roman Catholic Church. an anthem consisting of verses of Scripture, sung after the gradual in the Mass from Septuagesima until the day before Easter and on certain other occasions, taking the place of the alleluias and the verse that ordinarily accompany the gradual.
5.
Ornithology. a pteryla.
Origin of tract1
1350-1400
1350-1400; (in senses referring to extent of space) < Latin tractus stretch (of space or time), a drawing out, equivalent to trac-, variant stem of trahere to draw + -tus suffix of v. action; (def 4) < Medieval Latin tractus, apparently identical with the above, though literal sense unexplained
Can be confused
tack, tact, track, tract.
Synonyms
1. district, territory.

tract2

[trakt] /trækt/
noun
1.
a brief treatise or pamphlet for general distribution, usually on a religious or political topic.
Origin
1400-50; late Middle English tracte, apparently shortening of Medieval Latin tractātus tractate
Synonyms
essay, homily, disquisition.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for tract

tract1

/trækt/
noun
1.
an extended area, as of land
2.
(anatomy) a system of organs, glands, or other tissues that has a particular function: the digestive tract
3.
a bundle of nerve fibres having the same function, origin, and termination: the optic tract
4.
(archaic) an extended period of time
Word Origin
C15: from Latin tractus a stretching out, from trahere to drag

tract2

/trækt/
noun
1.
a treatise or pamphlet, esp a religious or moralistic one
Word Origin
C15: from Latin tractātustractate

tract3

/trækt/
noun
1.
(RC Church) an anthem in some Masses
Word Origin
C14: from Medieval Latin tractus cantus extended song; see tract1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for tract
n.

"area," late 15c., "period or lapse of time," from Latin tractus "track, course, space, duration," lit, "a drawing out or pulling," from stem of trahere "to pull, draw," from PIE root *tragh- "to draw, drag, move" (cf. Slovenian trag "trace, track," Middle Irish tragud "ebb," perhaps with a variant form *dhragh-; see drag (v.)). The meaning "stretch of land or water" is first recorded 1550s. Specific U.S. sense of "plot of land for development" is recorded from 1912; tract houses attested from 1963.

"little book, treatise" mid-12c., probably a shortened form of Latin tractatus "a handling, treatise, treatment," from tractare "to handle" (see treat). Not in any other language, according to OED.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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tract in Medicine

tract (trākt)
n.

  1. An elongated assembly of tissue or organs having a common origin, function, and termination, or a serial arrangement having a common function.

  2. A bundle of nerve fibers having a common origin, termination, and function.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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tract in Science
tract
  (trākt)   
  1. A series of body organs that work together to perform a specialized function, such as digestion.

  2. A bundle of nerve fibers, especially in the central nervous system, that begin and end in the same place and share a common function.


The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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