early 15c., from Latin attractus, past participle of attrahere "to draw, pull; to attract," from ad- "to" (see ad-) + trahere "draw" (see tract (n.1)).
Originally a medical term for the body's tendency to absorb fluids, nourishment, etc., or for a poultice treatment to "draw out" diseased matter (1560s). Of the ability of people or animals to draw others to them, it is attested from 1560s; of physical forces (magnetism, etc.), from c.1600 (implied in attraction). Related: Attracted; attracting.