in·​at·​ten·​tion | \ˌi-nə-ˈten(t)-shən \

Definition of inattention 

: failure to pay attention

Examples of inattention in a Sentence

Many traffic accidents are the result of driver inattention. They lost several potential clients through their inattention to detail.

Recent Examples on the Web

In a study of 2015 data, the state’s Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research found that 160 people were killed and more than 33,000 injured in crashes in which a driver’s inattention was a factor. Sarah Maslin Nir, New York Times, "Eyes on the Road: New York State Police Are Cracking Down on Distracted Drivers," 13 Apr. 2018 The main culprits: alcohol consumption, drugs, fatigue, inattention, and speed. Tony Bizjak, sacbee, "Here's your Fourth of July playbook for the Sacramento region," 3 July 2018 State and local law enforcement have stated that these incidents are a clear indication of driver inattention. Fiza Pirani, ajc, "Driving in Atlanta is painful — but it’s far from the worst," 11 July 2018 Griping about inattention from Washington, D.C., is a longtime mayoral pastime designed to help extract dollars from the federal government. WSJ, "Jetpacks and Tech-Enabled Cities: How We’ll Live in the Future," 9 May 2018 The risk is that complacency contributes to driver inattention. James B. Stewart, New York Times, "With Tesla in a Danger Zone, Can Model 3 Carry It to Safety?," 5 Apr. 2018 Drivers are cautioned to constantly monitor the system, but a few recent Tesla accidents — including a fatality — resulted from such inattention. Marco Della Cava, USA TODAY, "Porsche CEO: Newly renamed Taycan electric sedan drawing 'exceptional' interest," 8 June 2018 Because the irony is the strengths associated with middle children come not from parental nurturing but parental inattention. Adam Sternbergh, The Cut, "The Extinction of the Middle Child," 11 July 2018 Likely due to a combination of inattention and impulsivity, ADHD adults also tend to have less overall stability in romantic relationships and higher divorce rates than others, all of which can further impact their quality of life if untreated. Rene Hernandez-cardenache, Psy.d., M.s. Ed., miamiherald, "A focus on distraction: A closer look at adult ADHD," 2 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'inattention.' 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 inattention

circa 1670, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for inattention

Last Updated

25 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for inattention

The first known use of inattention was circa 1670

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More Definitions for inattention



English Language Learners Definition of inattention

: failure to carefully think about, listen to, or watch someone or something : lack of attention


in·​at·​ten·​tion | \ˌi-nə-ˈten-shən \

Kids Definition of inattention

: failure to pay attention The accident resulted from the driver's inattention.

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Comments on inattention

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


noxious or harmful

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