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 attention (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for attention



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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 Here are three titles to pay attention to on this week’s World Albums chart. Hugh Mcintyre, Forbes, "BTS, Baekhyun And IU: Watch These Titles On The World Albums Chart," 12 Apr. 2021 Pay attention to the questions; clues may lie within. Michael Ordoña, Los Angeles Times, "Test your Oscar genius with our trivia challenge," 12 Apr. 2021 Pay special attention to seams and crevices that could hide dirt, and be careful around buttons or other decorative elements. Jessica Bennett, Better Homes & Gardens, "How to Clean Outdoor Cushions and Pillows to Keep Them Fresh All Season," 10 Apr. 2021 Lisa says to pay special attention to the man's reaction after Van Sant mentioned the password. CBS News, "Link between dark web murder-for-hire plot and gamer may be bad grammar," 10 Apr. 2021 Other signals to pay attention to include mood and body language, and where the discussion is going. Washington Post, "Vaccine conversations can be messy. Here’s how to talk about the shots.," 8 Apr. 2021 As Facebook continues to push both personal boundaries and radical transparency, the potential for such user backlash, en masse, is something investors will actually want to pay attention to. Laura Forman, WSJ, "Facebook’s Data Breaches Don’t Matter, Until They Do," 7 Apr. 2021 But parents should also pay attention to how intense these worries seem to be. Dominique A. Phillips, The Conversation, "Here’s how to help your kids break out of their pandemic bubble and transition back to being with others," 7 Apr. 2021 For the first time in over a year, thousands of Cincinnati Public Schools students have started showing up to in-person learning five days per week, and police are cautioning drivers to slow down and pay attention. Madeline Mitchell, The Enquirer, "Hey, drivers. Kids are back in Cincinnati's schools. Slow down, police say.," 7 Apr. 2021

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

15 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Attention.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for attention



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 attention (audio) \ adjective

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Comments on attention

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