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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for over-attention
Historical Examples
  • To meet this handicap a more diversified agriculture must gradually supplant in some way the present over-attention to cotton.

    The Negro Farmer Carl Kelsey
  • Nature's own attitude with regard to over-attention to sex matters must not be forgotten.

    Psychotherapy James J. Walsh
  • over-attention to the mechanics of voice production is a kindred deterrent.

  • Many of the cases of insomnia are really due to this over-attention.

    Psychotherapy James J. Walsh
  • As soon as the over-attention has produced the acceptance of the belief, all further effects are automatic and necessary.

    Psychotherapy Hugo Mnsterberg
  • In a great many cases the greater part of the discomfort is due to over-sensitization and over-attention.

    Health Through Will Power James J. Walsh
  • It is because of over-attention to himself that the disturbance occurs.

    Psychotherapy James J. Walsh
  • Spoilt women are spoilt mainly from a like cause: over-attention from men.

  • Again we have there symptoms which rather characterize the state of over-attention than the state of sleep.

    Psychotherapy Hugo Mnsterberg
  • over-attention will actually make sensations intolerable that are at first quite indifferent, or at least very easy to bear.

    Psychotherapy James J. Walsh
British Dictionary definitions for over-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 over-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 over-attention


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