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[uh-ten-tiv] /əˈtɛn tɪv/
characterized by or giving attention; observant:
an attentive audience.
thoughtful of others; considerate; polite; courteous:
an attentive host.
Origin of attentive
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English (Scots) < Middle French; see attent, -ive
Related forms
attentively, adverb
attentiveness, noun
overattentive, adjective
overattentively, adverb
overattentiveness, noun
unattentive, adjective
unattentively, adverb
unattentiveness, noun
1. heedful, mindful, aware, alert, awake, watchful.
1. indifferent, apathetic, unconcerned. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for attentively
Contemporary Examples
  • I also find it kind of hard to believe that the conference and convention industry listens that attentively to the president.

Historical Examples
  • Her tone struck him; and he watched her attentively, out of the comer of his eyes.

    The Law Inevitable Louis Couperus
  • Phoebe, looking at her attentively, despaired of getting any nearer the truth from any of them.

    Good Indian B. M. Bower
  • Paul, with a very pale face, was seated on the bed, while Hortebise was attentively examining his bare shoulder.

    The Champdoce Mystery Emile Gaboriau
  • Wally, coming again alongside, turned his head, and regarded him attentively.

    Good Indian B. M. Bower
  • A large audience listened most attentively to my morning address.

  • Her visitor, standing quite still, looked at her attentively.

    Little Dorrit Charles Dickens
  • It lay open, and he had evidently been reading it attentively.

    The Lost Faith T. S. Childs
  • To-day, why she did not know, Vere listened to it attentively.

    A Spirit in Prison Robert Hichens
  • She wore a dress in which Milvain had not yet seen her, and it had the effect of making him regard her attentively.

    New Grub Street George Gissing
British Dictionary definitions for attentively


paying attention; listening carefully; observant
(postpositive) often foll by to. careful to fulfil the needs or wants (of); considerate (about): she was always attentive to his needs
Derived Forms
attentively, adverb
attentiveness, noun
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
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Word Origin and History for attentively



late 14c. (implied in attentively), from Old French attentif, from Vulgar Latin *attenditus, from Latin attentus "heedful, observant" (see attend). Sense of "actively ministering to the needs and wants" (of another person) is from early 16c. Related: Attentively.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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