What Does Attention Mean?
According to Dictionary.com, the word attention has the following meanings, when used as a noun:
- “The act or faculty of attending, especially by directing the mind to an object
- 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
- A state of consciousness characterized by such concentration
- A capacity to maintain selective or sustained concentration
- Observant care; consideration
- Civility or courtesy
- Notice or awareness
- Attentions, acts of courtesy or devotion indicating affection, as in courtship”
Synonyms for Attention
As per Thesaurus.com, the following are some common synonyms for attention:
The History of the Word
Having its inception in the late 14th century, the word initially meant “a giving heed, active direction of the mind upon some object or topic,” according to the Online Etymology Dictionary. Influences include the Old French attencion and Latin attentionem, meaning “attention, attentiveness.” The past-participle stem of attendere, which means “give heed to,” can be divided into ad meaning “to or toward” and tendere meaning “stretch.”
The word wasn’t a common one in English before the 17th century. The definition “consideration, observant care” evolved by 1741. In 1752, usage included the definition “civility, courtesy.” By 1871, we see the word being used for “power of mental concentration.” The word can be paired in sentences with a wide array of verbs, such as pay, gather, attract, draw, call, etc. In 1792, it developed usage as a military cautionary word before giving a command. The phrase “attention span” came into being around 1903.
When to Use the Abbreviation
The word attention can be abbreviated in two common ways, and they are:
Attn. is the more common of the two abbreviations. The abbreviated form of the word can be found in office-wide memos, business letters, addressed postage, and in newspaper ads. You can also use attn to address a specific person, by writing, “attention to [name]” or “attention of [name].” Headlines and newspapers titles feature abbreviations, as well, mostly due to space constraints. Apart from the use cases outlined above, the abbreviation isn’t commonly seen elsewhere.
Examples of the Word in Context
Listed below are some examples of how the word attention and its abbreviations can be used in sentences:
- “Still there,” he said, returning his attention to the old house.
- She paid no attention to his warning.
- Something drew his attention to Alex, who was watching Jace intently.
- Her attention shifted to her mother, who was still sleeping.
- Señor Alena’s attention shifted back and forth between Darcy and Adam, but neither offered any explanation.
- Do you feel like Nikolai wants your attention all the time?
- She sat down and paid more attention to her daughter.
- Keretsova, taking on the manners of an old soldier at the front, gave the command “Attention!” and rode up to the emperors with a salute.
- The soldiers stood at attention before the beginning of the drill.
- Note: He needs to make sure that everyone is paying attn. before presenting.
- They have a truly attention-seeking nature.
- She grabbed my attention with her powerful speech.
- Attn: Karen Rodgers / 2060 Miller Lane Office #1
- The attention span of kids these days seems shorter due to the impact of social media on our lives.
- Her kid has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder.
- The first line of a novel should always be the most attention-grabbing one.
- Att: Hiring Manager
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Kevin Miller is a growth marketer with an extensive background in Search Engine Optimization, paid acquisition and email marketing. He is also an online editor and writer based out of Los Angeles, CA. He studied at Georgetown University, worked at Google and became infatuated with English Grammar and for years has been diving into the language, demystifying the do's and don'ts for all who share the same passion! He can be found online here.