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1. To tug at, yank, or jerk someone or something. Quit pulling at that thread, or you'll cause the whole sweater to unravel! My daughter kept pulling at me to show me the toy she wanted for Christmas.
2. To demand, vie for, or impose on one's attention, focus, or concern. Between work, the kids, and the bills I need to pay, there are just too many things pulling at me right now—I feel like I'm going to snap! If your employees have too many projects pulling at them at once, their productivity is going to suffer.
pull at someone or something
to tug at someone or something. (See also pull at someone.) The child kept pulling at her mother to get her attention. Don't keep pulling at your hair. It will come out.
pull at someone
to vie for someone's attention or concern. (See also pull at someone or something.) There are too many demands pulling at me. I need to cut down on my responsibilities. I don't see how I can function with so many different things pulling at me.