a. The act of close or careful observing or listening: You'll learn more if you pay attention in class.
b. The ability or power to keep the mind on something; the ability to concentrate: We turned our attention to the poem's last stanza.
c. Notice or observation: The billboard caught our attention.
2. The act of dealing with something or someone; treatment: This injury requires immediate medical attention.
a. Acts of interest or interference: "men who wanted ... freedom from censorship and the attentions of the police" (John Kenneth Galbraith).
b. Acts of consideration or courtesy, especially in an effort to win someone's affection or gain sexual favors: "She was almost giddy with disbelief at the unexpected attentions of a handsome, well-spoken, obviously professional man" (Rob Kantner).
4. A military posture, with the body erect, eyes to the front, arms at the sides, and heels together.
Used as a command to assume an erect military posture.
[Middle English attencioun, from Latin attentiō, attentiōn-, from attentus, past participle of attendere, to heed; see ATTEND.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.