not attentive; negligent.

Origin of inattentive

First recorded in 1735–45; in-3 + attentive
Related formsin·at·ten·tive·ly, adverbin·at·ten·tive·ness, noun

Synonyms for inattentive Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for inattentive

Contemporary Examples of inattentive

Historical Examples of inattentive

  • You shall not complain of an inattentive or an irritable auditor.

    Vivian Grey

    Earl of Beaconsfield, Benjamin Disraeli

  • He stopped suddenly, for he had glanced at M. Chevrial and found him inattentive.

    The Destroyer

    Burton Egbert Stevenson

  • He was inattentive, and I perceived that he was profoundly perturbed.


    Joseph Conrad

  • But when prayer is inattentive the mind does not ascend towards God.

  • He paused a moment, looking at the inattentive youth opposite him.

British Dictionary definitions for inattentive



not paying attention; heedless; negligent
Derived Formsinattention or inattentiveness, nouninattentively, adverb
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 inattentive

1741, from in- (1) "not, opposite of" + attentive. Related: Inattentively; inattentiveness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper