in·​at·​ten·​tive ˌi-nə-ˈten-tiv How to pronounce inattentive (audio)
: not attentive : not paying attention
inattentively adverb
inattentiveness noun

Examples of inattentive in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The Institute also checked how these systems alerted an inattentive driver to pay attention. Peter Valdes-Dapena, CNN, 12 Mar. 2024 Third, the prosecution in Jennifer’s trial portrayed her as an inattentive mother, introducing evidence of her extramarital affair and her deep interest in her horses. Eric Levenson, CNN, 7 Mar. 2024 Michael Phillis’ Timmy is breezily inattentive but also jealous and easily agitated, while Gabriel Brown’s Sam is incredulous and defensive. Sam Hurwitt, The Mercury News, 23 Feb. 2024 The driver was cited for inattentive driving and speeding. Sophie Carson, Journal Sentinel, 30 Jan. 2024 Careless is a lesser charge than reckless and typically applies to an operator who has been inattentive at the wheel. David Goodhue, Miami Herald, 16 Feb. 2024 Some even used a camera aimed at the driver to discern if drivers were becoming inattentive, including drooping their head or simply averting their view from the straight-ahead. Jim Resnick, Ars Technica, 20 Jan. 2024 Black teachers also tend to have higher expectations for their Black students, and are less likely to view them as disruptive or inattentive, studies show. Calmatters, The Mercury News, 2 Jan. 2024 My inattentive waiter presented the bill with three pre-set tip options: 22%, 25% or 30%. Dave Seminara, WSJ, 23 Nov. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'inattentive.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1692, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of inattentive was in 1692

Dictionary Entries Near inattentive

Cite this Entry

“Inattentive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


in·​at·​ten·​tive -ˈtent-iv How to pronounce inattentive (audio)
: not attentive : not paying attention
the student was inattentive in class
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!