at·​ten·​tion | \ ə-ˈten(t)-shən How to pronounce attention (audio) , sense 4 often (ə-)ˌten(ch)-ˈhət \

Definition of attention

1a : the act or state of applying the mind to something Our attention was on the game. You should pay attention to what she says.
b : a condition of readiness for such attention involving especially a selective narrowing or focusing of consciousness and receptivity Students, do I have your attention?
2 : observation, notice especially : consideration with a view to action a problem requiring prompt attention
3a : an act of civility or courtesy especially in courtship She welcomed his attentions.
b : sympathetic consideration of the needs and wants of others : attentiveness She lavished attention on her children.
4 : a position assumed by a soldier with heels together, body erect, arms at the sides, and eyes to the front (US) The troops stood at attention. = (British) The troops stood to attention. often used as a command

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Other Words from attention

attentional \ ə-​ˈten(t)-​sh(ə-​)nəl How to pronounce attentional (audio) \ adjective

Examples of attention in a Sentence

We focused our attention on this particular poem. My attention wasn't really on the game. You need to pay more attention in school. She likes all the attention she is getting from the media. The actor avoids drawing attention to himself. The book has received national attention. The trial is getting a lot of public attention. The children were competing for the teacher's attention. A cat on a leash is sure to attract attention. I would like to call your attention to a problem we are having.
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Recent Examples on the Web As in Ireland, attention is beginning to turn to what went wrong and the toxic question of who is to blame. Tom Mctague, The Atlantic, "Ireland Puts Its Anthony Fauci Front and Center," 22 May 2020 Shifting the attention from systemic failures to rugged champions has consequences — sometimes deadly ones. Matthew Lewis, STAT, "Calling health care workers ‘heroes’ harms all of us," 21 May 2020 Still, the potential proliferation of unregulated guns constructed in basements across the country has continued to attract sporadic attention. Kim Kelly, The New Republic, "The Rise of the 3D-Printed Gun," 21 May 2020 National attention has focused on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is leading a state that is considered to be the United States’ epicenter of the pandemic. Molly Stellino, USA TODAY, "Fact check: Coronavirus volunteer health workers will be expected to pay NY state taxes," 21 May 2020 Everyone has rightfully paid more attention to DeWine's decision-making over the past two months. Jason Williams,, "PX column: In appreciation of Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine's thick skin," 21 May 2020 Ghosn escaped hiding in a black box aboard a private jet in an audacious stunt that captured the world's attention late last year. Colin Beresford, Car and Driver, "U.S. Arrests Men for Aiding Former Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn’s Escape," 20 May 2020 Bring on the politics Under normal circumstances, this would be when attention turns away from chloroquine derivatives and focuses on drugs that might actually work. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Trump declares scientific study a “Trump-enemy statement”," 20 May 2020 After an Uber self-driving car killed a jaywalking pedestrian in Arizona in 2018, police focused public attention on the safety driver, who appeared to be distracted in video from the car. Tom Simonite, Wired, "As Machines Get Smarter, How Will We Relate to Them?," 19 May 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'attention.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of attention

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for attention

Middle English attencioun, from Latin attention-, attentio, from attendere — see attend

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Time Traveler for attention

Time Traveler

The first known use of attention was in the 14th century

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Statistics for attention

Last Updated

24 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Attention.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for attention


How to pronounce attention (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of attention

: the act or power of carefully thinking about, listening to, or watching someone or something
: notice, interest, or awareness
: special care or treatment


at·​ten·​tion | \ ə-ˈten-shən How to pronounce attention (audio) \

Kids Definition of attention

1 : the act or the power of fixing the mind on something : careful listening or watching Pay attention to what happens next.
2 : notice, interest, or awareness attract attention
3 : careful thinking about something so as to be able to take action on it This matter requires immediate attention.
4 : special care or treatment His scrape did not require medical attention.
5 : an act of kindness or politeness His hospitable attentions were brief … being confined to a shake of a hand …— Washington Irving, “Sleepy Hollow”
6 : the way a soldier stands with the body stiff and straight, heels together, and arms at the sides


at·​ten·​tion | \ ə-ˈten-chən How to pronounce attention (audio) \

Medical Definition of attention

1 : the act or state of attending : the application of the mind to any object of sense or thought
2a : an organismic condition of selective awareness or perceptual receptivity specifically : the complex of neuromuscular adjustments that permit maximum excitability or responsiveness to a given class of stimuli
b : the process of focusing consciousness to produce greater vividness and clarity of certain of its contents relative to others

Other Words from attention

attentional \ -​ˈtench-​nəl, -​ˈten-​chən-​ᵊl How to pronounce attentional (audio) \ adjective

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