When you don't pay full attention to something or someone, that's inattention. Your inattention while you're driving can lead to mistakes like running a red light or bumping into the car in front of you.

If you're not focusing on something enough, you're guilty of inattention. Inattention can be dangerous when you're flying a plane, taking a math test, or babysitting an active toddler. When you add the "not" prefix in- to attention (which comes from the Latin attendere, "give heed to," or literally "stretch toward"), you get inattention.

Definitions of inattention

n lack of attention

attending, attention
the process whereby a person concentrates on some features of the environment to the (relative) exclusion of others
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heedlessness, inattentiveness
a lack of attentiveness (as to children or helpless people)
an obstacle to attention
disregard, neglect
lack of attention and due care
neglecting to do something; leaving out or passing over something
Type of:
basic cognitive process
cognitive processes involved in obtaining and storing knowledge

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