at·ten·tion | \ə-ˈten(t)-shən; 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 \-ˈten(t)-sh(ə-)nəl \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for attention


absorption, concentration, engrossment, enthrallment, immersion



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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

Anderson is capped by Brazil at international level and has caught the attention of Manuel Pellegrini after scoring 34 goals in 177 appearances for Lazio., "Lazio Star Felipe Anderson Undergoing West Ham Medical as Club Record Move Edges Closer," 13 July 2018 By chance, a book blurb from New Canaan Society founder James Lane caught the attention of Andrea Vassell, setting into motion events that led to the toppling of William Voge, the former chairman of Latham & Watkins LLP. Sara Randazzo, WSJ, "The Sexting Scandal That Toppled One of America’s Most Powerful Lawyers," 13 July 2018 If nothing else, Mr. Trump’s apparent willingness to turn over the table has gotten the attention of Western allies, creating a sense of urgency to meet the spending goals, and not everyone drew back in alarm. Steven Erlanger, New York Times, "Amid the Trumpian Chaos, Europe Sees a Strategy: Divide and Conquer," 13 July 2018 But despite the criticisms, Celmatix is moving forward with its research and efforts to capture the attention of a generation best known for its crippling student loan debt and gram-worthy avocado addictions. Megan Molteni, WIRED, "This Company Wants Your Fertility Data," 13 July 2018 But whether or not the feds were too harsh on the Hammonds has almost become irrelevant, because as soon as their case caught the attention of Ammon Bundy and his militant followers, their name became entwined with the Bundy cause. Jake Bullinger, Outside Online, "Trump’s Pardon Condones Western Rebellion," 12 July 2018 Whiteman pointed out that the edibles market provides a more discreet way to catch a buzz without the attention of patrolling police. Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press, "What Michigan needs to learn from Colorado's legalized marijuana," 12 July 2018 The nonprofit video production company Soft Cage Films came on board to produce the series after its cinematographer, Spence Warren, who's on the company's board, brought it to the attention of cofounder David Holcombe. Ariel Parrella-aureli, Chicago Reader, "365 Ways to Kill an American offers a new perspective on police brutality," 12 July 2018 Dhananjay got his start on YouTube making parody videos of popular R&B songs, which attracted the attention of filmmaker Geremy Jasper who cast him in his coming-of-age rap story that was picked up by Fox Searchlight out of the Utah festival. Mia Galuppo, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Patti Cake$' Actor Siddharth Dhananjay Signs With APA," 12 July 2018

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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Statistics for attention

Last Updated

12 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for attention

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

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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 \

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 \

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 \ adjective

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Comments on attention

What made you want to look up attention? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to reject or criticize sharply

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