noun at·ten·tion \ ə-ˈten(t)-shən ; sense 4 often (ə-)ˌten(ch)-ˈhət \
|Updated on: 3 Aug 2018

Definition of attention

1 a : 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
3 a : 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


play \-ˈten(t)-sh(ə-)nəl\ adjective

Examples of attention in a Sentence

  1. We focused our attention on this particular poem.

  2. My attention wasn't really on the game.

  3. You need to pay more attention in school.

  4. She likes all the attention she is getting from the media.

  5. The actor avoids drawing attention to himself.

  6. The book has received national attention.

  7. The trial is getting a lot of public attention.

  8. The children were competing for the teacher's attention.

  9. A cat on a leash is sure to attract attention.

  10. I would like to call your attention to a problem we are having.

Recent Examples of attention from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of attention

Middle English attencioun, from Latin attention-, attentio, from attendere — see attend

ATTENTION Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of attention for English Language Learners

  • : the act or power of carefully thinking about, listening to, or watching someone or something

  • : notice, interest, or awareness

  • : special care or treatment

ATTENTION Defined for Kids


noun at·ten·tion \ ə-ˈten-shən \

Definition of attention for Students

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

Medical Dictionary


noun 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
2 a : 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


play \-ˈtench-nəl, -ˈten-chən-ᵊl\ adjective

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