attention deficit disorder


a condition, usually in children, marked by inattentiveness, dreaminess, and passivity. Abbreviation: ADD
(no longer in technical use) attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Origin of attention deficit disorder

First recorded in 1980–85 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for attention deficit disorder

add, ADHD, hyperactivity

British Dictionary definitions for attention deficit disorder

attention deficit disorder


a disorder, particularly of children, characterized by excessive activity and inability to concentrate on one task for any length of timeAbbreviation: ADD
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 deficit disorder

(abbreviated ADD) became a diagnosis in the third edition of the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders" (1980); expanded to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ("the co-existence of attentional problems and hyperactivity, with each behavior occurring infrequently alone;" ADHD) in DSM-III (1987).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

attention deficit disorder in Medicine

attention deficit disorder



A syndrome, usually diagnosed in childhood, characterized by a persistent pattern of impulsiveness, a short attention span, and sometimes hyperactivity, and interfering especially with academic, occupational, and social performance.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

attention deficit disorder in Culture

Attention Deficit Disorder

A disorder characterized by a difficulty in retaining focus, especially on tasks, for long periods of time.


One of the most common reasons children are brought into therapy, ADD is often treated with the somewhat controversial drug Ritalin®, which is thought to work by stimulating the attention-focusing structures of the brain.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.