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From Latin tractilis[1] from trahere, tractum (to draw).


tractile (comparative more tractile, superlative most tractile)

  1. Capable of being drawn or stretched out in length.
    Synonym: ductile
    • 1607, Edward Topsell, The Historie of Foure-footed Beastes, London: William Jaggard, “Of the dormouse,” p. 527,[2]
      Because it draweth the hinder legges after it like a Hare, it is called Animal tractile, for it goeth by iumpes and little leapes.
    • 1626, Francis Bacon, Sylva Sylvarum, London: William Lee, Century 9, p. 221,[3]
      The Consistences of Bodies are very diuers: [] Fragile, Tough; Flexible Inflexible; Tractile, or to be drawen forth in length, Intractile;
    • 1874, S. R. Stoddard, The Adirondacks, Albany: Weed, Parsons, Chapter 2, p. 34,[4]
      [] he carried a piece [of the iron ore] to a blacksmith forge, and ascertained that it was of a very fine, tractile quality:
    • 1906, Wallace Irwin, “The Poet and the Gas Man” in Random Rhymes and Odd Numbers, New York: Macmillan, p. 79,[5]
      “Oh, Gas Man, Gas Man, answer me—
      My lines are long and tractile
      Which kind of meter would you see,
      A spondee or a dactyl?”
    • 1916, B. G. R. Williams, Practical Uranalyses, St. Louis: C.V. Mosby, Chapter 5, p. 126,[6]
      Mucus is cohesive and tractile, and is not very adhesive or brittle (even when considerably desiccated) []
    • 1983, R.A. Lawrie and D.A. Ledward, “Texturization of Recovered Proteins” in D.A. Ledward, A.J. Taylor and R.A. Lawrie (ed.), Upgrading Waste for Feeds and Food, London: Butterworths, p. 171,[7]
      Under these conditions starchy components gelatinize, proteins denature and the tractile components are restructured and/or aligned.
  2. Pertaining to traction or pulling.
    Synonyms: tractional, tractive
    • 1852, Sherard Osborn, Stray Leaves from an Arctic Journal, New York: Putnam, p. 137,[8]
      Kites, which the kind Mr. Benjamin Smith had supplied me with, as a tractile power to assist us in dragging sledges, as well as a means of signalizing between parties, afforded much interest []
    • 1860, Henry David Thoreau, Journal entry dated 25 March, 1860, in Bradford Torrey (ed.), The Writings of Henry David Thoreau: Journal, December 1, 1859–July 31, 1860, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1906, p. 221,[9]
      The sleighing, the sledding, or sliding, is gone. We now begin to wheel or roll ourselves and commodities along, which requires more tractile power.
    • 1880, Henry G. Landis, How to Use the Forceps, New York: E.B. Treat, Part 2, p. 130,[10]
      The tractile efforts should be made during the continuance of the labor pains, if the latter are frequent and regular, and suspended in the interval between them.
    • 1989, Raymond Rosenthal (translator), “Five Intimate Interviews” by Primo Levi in The Mirror Maker, New York: Schocken Books, p. 33,[11]
      I bet that, big as you are, you could not withstand the tractile force of one of my hands.
  3. (dated) Capable of being led.
    Synonym: tractable
    • 1743, Aaron Hill, The Fanciad, London: J. Osborn, Canto 4, p. 34,[12]
      To Bribes, unbow’d: yet ductile in Command:
      Their Heart, their Country’s—and their King’s, their Hand,
      STILL-but how chang’d! -thus, thus, were Armies taught;
      Un-paid, thus tractile; and thus rais’d, un-bought:
    • 1903, Mary Austin, The Land of Little Rain, Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, “The Mesa Trail,” p. 156,[13]
      The shy hairy men who herd the tractile flocks might be, except for some added clothing, the very brethren of David.
    • 1908, Henry L. Mencken, The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, London: T. Fisher Unwin, Chapter 10, p. 197,[14]
      [] this would re-establish the law of natural selection firmly upon its disputed throne, and so the strong would grow ever stronger and more efficient, and the weak would grow ever more obedient and tractile.
    • 1955, J. D. Salinger, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters in Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction, Boston: Little, Brown, 1959, p. 29,[15]
      [] abruptly, his head craned into the limited space between Mrs. Silsburn and me. “Driver,” he said peremptorily, and waited for a response. When it came with promptness, his voice became a bit more tractile, democratic: “How long do you think we’ll be tied up here?”
  4. (obsolete, rare, of financial assets) Able to be drawn or procured from a place of deposit.
    • 1892, Robert Louis Stevenson and Lloyd Osbourne, The Wrecker, London: Cassell, 1913, Chapter 7, p. 102,[16]
      Some eight thousand (being late conquest) was liquid and actually tractile in the bank; the rest whirled beyond reach and even sight (save in the mirror of a balance-sheet) under the compelling spell of wizard Pinkerton.
    • 1930, Charles Edward Russell, Haym Salomon and the Revolution, New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, Chapter 16, p. 273,[17]
      With all other assets that could be made tractile and merchantable, they went to pay Haym Salomon’s debts.

Derived termsEdit


  1. ^ Louis Quicherat and Amédée Daveluy, Dictionnaire latin français, Paris: Hachette, 1857, p. 1206.[1]