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  • Adj.




Klonk the caveman was attentive or paying close attention as he watched Grog show him how to start a fire. Grog told Klonk to be attentive to or focused on the lesson about moving away quickly after the flames started so that he would not get burned. When Klonk tried on his own, he was attentive to or very aware of what was happening in every step he had learned. Once the fire got going, however, he suddenly realized that he should have been more attentive to or watchful about how to put the fire out!

Quiz: What is happening if you are being attentive to something?

  • You are thinking about it and also a number of other things.
  • You are staying aware of it, taking a break, and then thinking about it again.
  • You are keeping your mind on it in order to focus on it.

Memory Hook

Listening? Often Active! If you are going to be attentive, your ears must often be active in order to listen to what is going on!


  • Father was especially attentive to Miss Allison, I noticed; he smiled at me when I very carefully served her wedding cake and hurried away to bring her fresh coffee. —Up a Road Slowly
  • He had been listening attentively through all the talk; he had followed back and forth the give-and-take of conversation, the balancing of argument, the gestures, the decisions, even though his eyes had seemed but half open. —The Trumpeter of Krakow

Word Ingredients

at- to, towards
tent stretched, stretched out
-ive of or that which does something

If you are being attentive, your mind and ears are “stretched out towards” another person, thereby focusing on her.

Word Theater

Attentive Systems Here is a way to stay attentive on the phone while others are asking you questions.

Word Constellation


Word Variants

attention n the act of keeping one's mind on something and not on anything else