Definition of attention in English:



  • 1Notice taken of someone or something; the regarding of someone or something as interesting or important.

    ‘he drew attention to three spelling mistakes’
    • ‘It attracted a lot of attention confirming the interest in the whole area of child minding.’
    • ‘Is that the only passage in which the trial judge drew attention to his interest in the outcome of the proceedings?’
    • ‘Several speakers drew attention to other victims of police killings and repression.’
    • ‘One caller drew attention to the fact that very many immigrant workers are exploited and abused.’
    • ‘Uppermost is paying attention to what is going on there, so I can come home and tell a story that in some way or other is useful to the community.’
    • ‘It drew attention to the plight of one pregnant woman constantly made to work excessive hours.’
    • ‘I listened with great care and attention to a detailed and lengthy statement from the prime minister.’
    • ‘I should have paid attention to what kind of flower this is.’
    • ‘In his keynote address, the mayor drew attention to the hardships faced by the elderly.’
    • ‘He also drew attention to the problem of the unacceptable level of absenteeism at the company's Carlow plant.’
    • ‘Dr Purver said she had hoped the bullying would go away if she drew attention to it.’
    • ‘While not a big box office hit, it drew attention to Babi's unconventional Western looks and she won dozens of subsequent roles.’
    • ‘It isn't civilised to draw attention to what divides the human race.’
    • ‘At the same time I drew attention to the removal of bus services.’
    • ‘You’re not paying attention.’
    • ‘He drew attention to the things he observed by asking his sons what they thought was happening.’
    • ‘He also drew attention to the increased number of youths congregating on school sites after dark to drink.’
    • ‘He also drew attention to the huge cost of implementing the legislation.’
    • ‘A police helicopter circling overhead drew attention to the scene.’
    • ‘He drew attention to three important interrelated factors which he regarded as peculiar to arbitration agreements.’
    listen, be attentive, attend, concentrate on, concentrate on hearing, give ear to, lend an ear to
    hang on someone's words
    awareness, notice, observation, consciousness, heed, recognition, regard, scrutiny, surveillance, attentiveness
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    1. 1.1The mental faculty of considering or taking notice of someone or something.
      ‘he turned his attention to the educational system’
      • ‘My attention constantly drifted off after I wrote each sentence.’
      • ‘The lights and decorations have long since attracted the attentions of locals but now it seems even tourists are taking memories of them home.’
      • ‘The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.’
      • ‘Using a preface statement gives me a chance to refocus my attention.’
      • ‘An avid cricketer when young, he has now turned his attention to polo.’
      • ‘It was while in exile in Malaysia in the 90s, that they turned their attention to Australia.’
      • ‘He studied law in London, but quickly turned his attention to writing.’
      • ‘But before I could open the door, the sound of a car pulling up the gravel driveway behind me distracted my attention.’
      • ‘I then briefly turned my attention to the television and saw that he was watching some kind of war movie.’
      • ‘Rafael glanced at her for a second then turned his attention to the road again.’
      • ‘He turned his attentions to spray painting as a technique and exhibited those works in Bangalore in 1990.’
      • ‘By June local readers had turned their attention to the European elections.’
      • ‘At first, he thought it was a aeroplane, because the airport was not far away, but its path and its behavior attracted his attention.’
      • ‘Not that such considerations made any difference when we turned our attention to the menu.’
      • ‘When the Osprey moved on, we turned our attention to the numerous sparrows moving around the field and hedgerow.’
      • ‘At that point he dismissed me as being past redemption and turned his attention to someone else passing by.’
      • ‘She merely dropped her smile, opened her folder and turned her attention to her schedule.’
      • ‘I've recently seen some news that caught my attention.’
      • ‘As she turned her attention to the people behind her, she realized they had stopped talking.’
      watching, monitoring, scrutiny, examination, inspection, scrutinization, viewing, survey, surveillance, surveying, consideration, study, review
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  • 2The action of dealing with or taking special care of someone or something.

    ‘her business needed her attention’
    ‘he was found guilty of failing to give a patient adequate medical attention’
    • ‘A little extra care and attention to the problem will make the difference.’
    • ‘They stand next to some council flats now looking shamefully in need of care and attention next to their spanking new neighbours.’
    • ‘Obviously, it was just a sign of his lack of care and attention, after all, strimming edges is hardly rocket science, is it?!’
    • ‘Nationally, the figures showed a huge rise in the number of animals not getting the most basic care and attention.’
    • ‘Since then, they have turned their attention to fixing roads and keeping people fed.’
    • ‘Anyone with a medical problem will then be provided with a referral for appropriate medical care and attention.’
    • ‘Their house reflects care and attention, as does their large, beautiful garden.’
    • ‘Is constant care and attention the only way to hang on to your husband?’
    • ‘He pleaded guilty to nine offences of causing unnecessary suffering by failing to provide proper care and attention.’
    • ‘Accidents happen because of somebody's lack of care and attention.’
    • ‘These patients require the same attention and care as those who meet all the criteria.’
    • ‘We have teachers and principals who would rather not be bothered with those who need extra attention and care.’
    • ‘Many were the hours and days she put in faithfully attending to her work with great care and attention to detail.’
    • ‘The guy likes being in the hospital and getting all that personal care and attention.’
    • ‘However we are not directing our attentions purely at this market.’
    • ‘We help patients decide if a problem requires medical attention or even hospital care.’
    • ‘But there are a few compensations, not least the care and attention she receives.’
    • ‘It's a funny and exhilarating movie, which has evidently been made with much care and attention.’
    • ‘He also admitted driving without due care and attention and was fined £250 and had his licence endorsed.’
    • ‘It's so great to see some care and attention given to a TV cartoon, what with the hand painted backgrounds and all.’
    • ‘She soon managed to move out of the refuge and turned her attention to following her dream.’
    • ‘This is a wonderful experience for both the host family and the child and all it costs is some love, care and attention.’
    • ‘They live for an incredibly long time and need a lot of care and attention, but they are great companions and very dependable.’
    • ‘All it needs now is regular care and attention to keep it neat and trim.’
    • ‘A great deal of care and attention was paid to the little details that do so much to make the production look authentic.’
    care, treatment, therapy, ministration, succour, relief, support, aid, help, assistance, service
    observation, attentiveness, intentness, notice, concentration, heed, heedfulness, mindfulness, regard, scrutiny
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    1. 2.1Things done to express interest in or please someone.
      ‘she felt flattered by his attentions’
      • ‘She said that after about a year, and as a result of the girl doing her best to resist his advances, Richards turned his attentions to another girl.’
      • ‘Obviously he was flattered at the attentions of such a young and attractive woman.’
      • ‘She seemed to be somewhat jealous of the fact that my attentions were divided equally among everyone else in the office and not just at her.’
      • ‘It felt good to be out and about and she wouldn't deny that she was flattered by Ollie's attentions.’
      • ‘Men harassers prefer to force their unwanted attentions on strangers in public amusement places.’
      • ‘Flattered by the attentions of the young lord, Antonello admits him to his studio.’
      • ‘Flattered by the officer's attentions, the girl, who was being bullied at school, did not report the incidents.’
      courtesy, civility, politeness, respect, gallantry, urbanity, deference
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  • 3Military
    A position assumed by a soldier, standing very straight with the feet together and the arms straight down the sides of the body.

    ‘Saunders stood stolidly to attention’
    • ‘What had he done now, he wondered, as he stood at attention in his Captain's cabin.’
    • ‘Peter quickly sidled in front of Marsh and stood to attention.’
    • ‘Back injuries, caused by the long periods of standing at attention, are a problem.’
    • ‘Cao threw up a salute and stood at attention as the superior officer stopped in front of him.’
    • ‘He stood at attention and looked straight ahead without expression as each verdict was read out at Fort Hood, Texas.’
    • ‘When police vehicles fail to stop for you, you are required to stand at attention and salute the officers as they speed past.’
    • ‘Their eyes slowly roved over the group of soldiers standing at attention beyond the podium.’
    • ‘They stood to attention in full Legion dress and led the small crowd in a moment's silent reflection.’
    • ‘I hear the squeak of his boots and when I turn around, he is standing at attention.’
    • ‘Inside, the guards were no longer lounging about with a bored air but stood at attention next to the body.’
    • ‘The eight were out of the beds and out of their rooms at attention in less than ten seconds.’
    • ‘When we arrived a soldier stood at attention and bowed when the prince entered.’
    • ‘He had apparently forgotten the rules of standing at attention.’
    • ‘Guards standing to attention on parade could become quite faint in temperatures that could reach 100 degrees in summer.’
    • ‘The honor guard took the casket off the airplane, as we all stood at attention, saluting.’
    • ‘We stood at attention, and gave the proper salute when meeting a fellow soldier.’
    • ‘Two guards either side of the castle doors stood to attention, their eyes scouring the Teger men fiercely.’
    • ‘The sentinel still stood at attention directly under the lantern, not moving but to breathe.’
    • ‘The guards stood at attention, eyeing the crowd to make sure that all had bowed.’
    • ‘Two suits of armour stood to attention at the foot of a wide oak staircase.’
    1. 3.1[as exclamation]An order to assume a straight standing position.


  • pay attention

    • Take notice of someone or something.

      ‘students used to know how to pay attention, even when the lecture was boring’
      ‘if you pay attention to one thing, you have to ignore something else’
      ‘you've never paid that much attention to her opinions’
      • ‘Some communities have only recently begun paying attention to the debate.’
      • ‘Learning about the environment meant paying attention to don't litter signs.’
      • ‘The guys who aren't profitable aren't paying attention to the business end of things.’
      • ‘No wonder big media have started to pay attention.’
      • ‘Like a determined sleuth, I followed the sound, hardly paying attention to the ground where I walked.’
      • ‘In my frantic sprint to reach the girl in time, I hadn't been paying attention to the ground below me.’
      • ‘To avoid cuts, you've really got to pay attention.’
      • ‘Somewhere east of the Mojave Desert my mother began to urge her brood to pay attention to the landscape.’
      • ‘The press demand the public pay attention to them.’
      • ‘Some of his best poems begin simply with the act of listening, of readiness to be astonished, of paying attention.’
      listen, be attentive, attend, concentrate on, concentrate on hearing, give ear to, lend an ear to
      View synonyms


Late Middle English: from Latin attentio(n-), from the verb attendere (see attend).