tract

1 [trakt]
noun
1.
an expanse or area of land, water, etc.; region; stretch.
2.
Anatomy.
a.
a definite region or area of the body, especially a group, series, or system of related parts or organs: the digestive tract.
b.
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:
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


1. district, territory.
Dictionary.com Unabridged

tract

2 [trakt]
noun
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


essay, homily, disquisition.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
tract1 (trækt)
 
n
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
 
[C15: from Latin tractus a stretching out, from trahere to drag]

tract2 (trækt)
 
n
a treatise or pamphlet, esp a religious or moralistic one
 
[C15: from Latin tractātustractate]

tract3 (trækt)
 
n
RC Church an anthem in some Masses
 
[C14: from Medieval Latin tractus cantus extended song; see tract1]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

tract
"area," 1494, "period or lapse of time," from L. tractus "track, course, space, duration," lit, "a drawing out or pulling," from stem of trahere "to pull, draw," from PIE base *tragh- "to draw, drag, move" (cf. Slovenian trag "trace, track," M.Ir. tragud "ebb," with variant form *dhragh-; see
drag). The meaning "stretch of land or water" is first recorded 1553. Specific U.S. sense of "plot of land for development" is recorded from 1912; tract houses attested from 1963.

tract
"little book," early 15c., probably a shortened form of L. 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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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

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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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
tract   (trākt)  Pronunciation Key 
  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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Example sentences
Obese adults are not going to lose weight unless they decide to have their
  stomachs separated from their digestive tracts.
Vast tracts of rainforest are indeed being cut down to plant commodity crops,
  particularly soy.
Many of its roads are tracts of mud, and hardly a car or truck engine breaks
  the whisper of the wind in its birches and aspens.
Their ancestors lived a semi-nomadic life across large tracts of the desert.
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