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 In advance of opening statements, hundreds of people gathered at rallies and vigils Sunday to honor Floyd's life and draw attention to the court proceedings. Grace Hauck, USA TODAY, "Derek Chauvin trial live: Opening statements to begin Monday after hundreds gathered to honor George Floyd's life," 29 Mar. 2021 Also in January dozens of residents and tenants held a rally to draw attention to the complaints. Steven Goode,, "Windsor Housing Authority executive director files federal lawsuit," 28 Mar. 2021 Henry Cuellar of Texas was among the first congressmen to draw attention to the crisis on the southern border. Matthew Continetti, National Review, "Operation Overreach," 27 Mar. 2021 If that’s the case, the 27-year-old forward will draw attention because of his ability to stretch the floor and defend., "With clear eyes, Toronto says goodbye to championship core — except Kyle Lowry," 27 Mar. 2021 Stack an item, like a lipstick, perfume, or face mask, on a wood block (books work too) to draw attention to it. Paige Stables, Allure, "Interior Design Ideas From 5 of the World's Prettiest Beauty Boutiques," 26 Mar. 2021 Efforts to draw attention to very real problems shouldn’t rely on opportunistic suppositions. Eric Zorn,, "Column: As we process Boulder and Atlanta, remember the Pulse nightclub massacre. Sometimes we get it wrong.," 25 Mar. 2021 Tara has one friend, Simon, who doesn’t draw much attention to himself. Cressida Leyshon, The New Yorker, "Ayşegül Savaş on How We Shape Our Lives," 22 Mar. 2021 But many others are still hopeful, and some have organized campaigns on social media to draw attention to their plight. New York Times, "Think Covid’s Messed Up Your Travel Plans? Try Getting Into China.," 21 Mar. 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

3 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Attention.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 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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