• synonyms


[noun uh-ten-shuhn; interjection uh-ten-shuhn]
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  1. the act or faculty of attending, especially by directing the mind to an object.
  2. Psychology.
    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.
  3. observant care; consideration: Individual attention is given to each child.
  4. civility or courtesy: attention to a guest.
  5. notice or awareness: His deliberate cough caught the waiter's attention.
  6. attentions, acts of courtesy or devotion indicating affection, as in courtship.
  7. Military. an erect position with eyes to the front, arms to the sides, and heels together (often used as a command).
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Origin of attention

1325–75; Middle English attencioun < Latin attentiōn- (stem of attentiō). See attent, -ion
Related formsat·ten·tion·al, adjectiveo·ver·at·ten·tion, noun


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for attention

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Another subject attracted her attention and occupied some share of her thoughts.


    Lydia Maria Child

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

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • Harbour improvements have occupied much of the attention of Government.

  • 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


  1. concentrated direction of the mind, esp to a problem or task
  2. consideration, notice, or observationa new matter has come to our attention
  3. detailed care or special treatmentto pay attention to one's appearance
  4. (usually plural) an act of consideration, courtesy, or gallantry indicating affection or loveattentions given to a lover
  5. 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
  6. psychol the act of concentrating on any one of a set of objects or thoughtsSee also selective attention
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sentence substitute
  1. the order to be alert or to adopt a position of formal military alertness
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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

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with attention


see pay attention.

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