in·​at·​ten·​tion | \ ˌi-nə-ˈten(t)-shən How to pronounce inattention (audio) \

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 Jenner's inattention to political detail apparently extends to some basic facts of how government operates. Mark Z. Barabak, Star Tribune, "Caitlyn Jenner can't run for governor on celebrity alone," 28 Apr. 2021 Accidents do happen, and sometimes the consequences are tragic, but that doesn’t mean someone else is always responsible for an injured person’s negligence and inattention. WSJ, "Danger: Peloton Use Calls for Some Personal Responsibility," 26 Apr. 2021 Jenner’s inattention to political detail apparently extends to some basic facts of how government operates. Los Angeles Times, "Column: Caitlyn Jenner wants to be California governor. But she’s no Ronald Reagan or Arnold Schwarzenegger," 26 Apr. 2021 That won't get a universal embrace, either, but U.S. inattention to conditions in those countries is neither honorable nor practical. Editorial Board, Star Tribune, "A humanitarian storm at the border," 19 Mar. 2021 The Longhorns’ defeat was borne of sloppiness, inattention and a startling lack of shooting confidence. Nick Moyle, San Antonio Express-News, "Texas hasn't been the same since its trip to West Virginia," 8 Feb. 2021 Medical inattention is just one concern among many. Ed Yong, The Atlantic, "Pandemic Year Two," 29 Dec. 2020 The Shelby models, in particular, deliver steering and suspension that's hyper-communicative, and the risk of getting bucked off the pavement due to your own inattention or lack of skill is quite real. Annie White, Car and Driver, "2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E Is Ford's Best EV Ever," 15 Dec. 2020 Delirium — confusion, inattention, disorientation, and other cognitive change — is a common sign of any infection in older people. Chronicle Staff,, "Coronavirus news from the Bay Area: Nov. 13-19," 22 Nov. 2020

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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Time Traveler for inattention

Time Traveler

The first known use of inattention was circa 1670

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Statistics for inattention

Last Updated

8 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Inattention.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 May. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce inattention (audio) \

Kids Definition of inattention

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

More from Merriam-Webster on inattention

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for inattention

Nglish: Translation of inattention for Spanish Speakers

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