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[noun uh-ten-shuh n; interjection uh-ten-shuhn] /noun əˈtɛn ʃən; interjection əˌtɛnˈʃʌn/
the act or faculty of attending, especially by directing the mind to an object.
  1. a concentration of the mind on a single object or thought, especially one preferentially selected from a complex, with a view to limiting or clarifying receptivity by narrowing the range of stimuli.
  2. a state of consciousness characterized by such concentration.
  3. a capacity to maintain selective or sustained concentration.
observant care; consideration:
Individual attention is given to each child.
civility or courtesy:
attention to a guest.
notice or awareness:
His deliberate cough caught the waiter's attention.
attentions, acts of courtesy or devotion indicating affection, as in courtship.
Military. an erect position with eyes to the front, arms to the sides, and heels together (often used as a command).
Origin of attention
1325-75; Middle English attencioun < Latin attentiōn- (stem of attentiō). See attent, -ion
Related forms
attentional, adjective
overattention, noun
1. awareness, consciousness, watchfulness, alertness, mindfulness, heed. 4. deference, politeness, regard; respect, homage. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for attention
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Another subject attracted her attention and occupied some share of her thoughts.

    Philothea Lydia Maria Child
  • Harbour improvements have occupied much of the attention of Government.

  • Mrs. Rushton was pleased with this mark of attention, and after a slight demur, accepted.

    Brave and Bold Horatio Alger
  • And, if we do, it is doubtful if we can attract their attention.

    Brave and Bold Horatio Alger
  • Stepping into the store, he attracted the attention of the proprietor.

    Brave and Bold Horatio Alger
British Dictionary definitions for attention


concentrated direction of the mind, esp to a problem or task
consideration, notice, or observation: a new matter has come to our attention
detailed care or special treatment: to pay attention to one's appearance
(usually pl) an act of consideration, courtesy, or gallantry indicating affection or love: attentions given to a lover
the motionless position of formal military alertness, esp in drill when an upright position is assumed with legs and heels together, arms to the sides, head and eyes facing to the front
(psychol) the act of concentrating on any one of a set of objects or thoughts See also selective attention
sentence substitute
the order to be alert or to adopt a position of formal military alertness
Word Origin
C14: from Latin attentiō, from attendere to apply the mind to; see attend
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for attention

late 14c., "giving heed," from Latin attentionem (nominative attentio) "attention, attentiveness," noun of action from past participle stem of attendere "mental heeding" (see attend). Used with a remarkable diversity of verbs (e.g. pay, gather, attract, draw, call). As a military cautionary word preparative to giving a command, it is attested from 1792.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with attention


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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