Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To divert from a main issue or course: I was sidetracked from my work by an unexpected visitor.
  • transitive v. To delay or block the progress of deliberately: "a bill that would sidetrack food irradiation in this country” ( Alexis Beck).
  • transitive v. To switch from a main railroad track to a siding.
  • intransitive v. To deviate from a main issue or course.
  • intransitive v. To run into a siding.
  • n. A railroad siding.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A second, relatively short length of track just to the side of a railroad track, joined to the main track by switches at one or both ends, used either for unloading freight, or to allow two trains on a same track to meet (opposite directions) or pass (same direction); a railroad siding.
  • n. Any auxiliary railroad track, as differentiated from a siding, that runs adjacent to the main track.
  • n. A smaller tunnel or well drilled as an auxiliary off a main tunnel or well.
  • n. An alternate train of thought, issue, topic, or activity, that is a deviation or distraction from the topic at hand or central activity, and secondary or subordinate in importance or effectiveness.
  • v. To divert (a locomotive) on to a lesser used track in order to allow other trains to pass.
  • v. To divert or distract (someone) from a main issue or course of action with an alternate or less relevant topic or activity; or, to use deliberate trickery or sly wordplay when talking to (a person) in order to avoid discussion of a subject.
  • v. To sideline; to push aside; to divert or distract from, reducing (something) to a secondary or subordinate position.
  • v. To deviate briefly from the topic at hand.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To transfer to a siding from a main line of track.
  • transitive v. Hence, fig., to divert or reduce to a position or condition that is relatively secondary or subordinate in activity, importance, effectiveness, or the like; to switch off; to turn aside, as from a purpose.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A short line of rails branching off by a switch from the main line of a railroad, and either returning to it or not at the further end, for use in turning out, shifting rolling-stock, etc.; a siding.
  • To put upon a side-track; shift from the main line of a railroad to a subsidiary one; shunt.
  • Figuratively, to divert to one side; turn aside from the proper or the practicable course.
  • To pass to a side-track; come to rest on a siding.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. wander from a direct or straight course
  • n. a short stretch of railroad track used to store rolling stock or enable trains on the same line to pass

Etymologies

Sorry, no etymologies found.

Examples

  • It is kind of a sidetrack from the usual Cabinet fare, but might prove interesting to many of you.

    Babylon: Pavement Paradises

  • It was a great "sidetrack" - they learned more in a week and a half of blogging than I could have taught in a month.

    Me thinks you doth protest too much

  • It's a sidetrack of an existing well, and the sidetrack is a short sidetrack just to get around the completion.

  • I don't think this will 'sidetrack' the discussion - in fact, it relates to a point mentioned in Jason's comment to which I had hoped to return.

    Fearfully and Wonderfully Made Up

  • But there's always this kind of sidetrack two that goes on between the first ladies.

    CNN Transcript Apr 1, 2009

  • For example, a common practice is to "sidetrack," which means digging an underground offshoot from an existing well to make sure you get as much as you can from a large pocket of oil.

    NPR Topics: News

  • Although the ocean energy bureau plans to conduct the reviews before approving new deep-water wells and other projects that were covered by the moratorium, the government is on track to exempt relatively common "sidetrack"

    chron.com Chronicle

  • The rig has now moved to the Ezzaouia 2 well location to perform the planned sidetrack which is expected to take approximately three to four weeks.

    Marketwire - Breaking News Releases

  • The ambitious prosecutor knew that the Americans were determined to sidetrack his investigation, and he proceeded with care and discretion.

    Fallout

  • Then, once deciding that is a failing proposition, long overdue for correction and only defended by Special Interests, we need to finally and promptly fine tune a solution and not allow deceptive tactics to sidetrack it.

    Grade the Obama administration on health care

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