Neglect vs Inattention: Difference and Comparison

A few words look similar in meaning but are interpreted differently according to their usage in a particular situation. Some people get confused between such words and tend to use them interchangeably.

Neglect and inattention are two English words that appear to be interchangeable and similar, but when their meanings are understood, we can distinguish between them. We also comprehend which phrase to use in which situation.

Key Takeaways

  1. Neglect is a deliberate failure to care for someone or something, whereas inattention is unintentional.
  2. Neglect has more severe consequences, often causing harm or damage, while inattention can lead to minor issues or mistakes.
  3. Neglect can be legally punishable, whereas inattention is generally not considered legal.

Neglect vs Inattention

Neglect is an intentional activity where we ignore something in particular deliberately. Inattention means the inability to pay attention due to a distraction, mistake, temporary lack of focus, or a chronic problem. Neglect is often intentional, while inattention can be intentional or unintentional.

Neglect vs Inattention

Neglect is an old English word that means to ignore somebody in terms of caring and loving. Neglect is also utilized when we continually put off doing our work because we are careless.


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It is a negative personality trait that is destroying our lifestyle and our loved ones, including friends, parents, and others around us.

Inattention is not an exact synonym of neglect. It is a situation when something is ignored, but not intentionally.

Due to multiple factors (excess of burden, excess of stress, or the fact that work slips from our minds), we occasionally forget our people and critical responsibilities. It is a neutral persona trait.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonNeglectInattention
MeaningNeglect means paying no attention to vital aspects intentionally.Inattention means to pay no attention to crucial aspects unintentionally.
RootThe word neglect was constructed from the Latin word.The word inattention was made from the French word.
Invented InThe word neglect has been known since the 16th century.The word inattention has been known since the 17th C.
Type of WordNeglect is a negative word.Inattention is a neutral word.
SynonymsThe synonyms of the word neglect are abandon and ignore.The synonyms of the word inattention are distraction and preoccupation.

What is Neglect?

Neglect is a Latin word created by combining neg (not) and lect (pick up). If we combine these words, it means not picking up (ignore something). Neglect is a deliberate act of ignorance. So, in English, it falls under verbs.

It is known from the early 16th century in the English language. In the context of people, neglect means ignoring people’s feelings, health, their comfort level by being rude towards them.

It means neglecting the responsibility which has been assigned to the people.

Specially neglect is used when the caretaker does not fulfill the duties. It is harmful to the people whose care has to be taken. Moreover, this act can delay somebody’s recovery time and speedy progress.

If some people are neglecting the children, it can spoil the upcoming life of that children in terms of confidence level, care, and education. When a negligent caretaker acts violently towards people, this conduct might sometimes take the form of a violent act.

Neglect is also used when people are careless about their work intentionally. They are not serious about their duties and neglect them carelessly.

This behavior depicts the negative persona of humans, and they cannot be trusted with work matters. It can also cause delays in job activities. As a result, the company faces losses.


What is Inattention?

Inattention is the antonym of the word attention. So, when we add (IN) as a prefix to the word attention, the means of the phrase turns out to be not paying attention. This word has been known since the 17th C period.

Inattention is that scenario when people are not paying any attention, but this act is not deliberate. It means it is not a synonym of the word neglect because the intentions are not bad.

Caregivers or anyone with too many responsibilities may forget to take care of people because they are so overwhelmed. Other factors could include a lack of time or a high degree of stress, both of which can lead to distraction.

Though responsibility holders are not deliberately running from their duties, people who require any aid will suffer. If parents or equivalent are inattentive toward the child, their child will suffer in terms of growth and mental health.

If this pattern of conduct persists, the parent-child connection may be jeopardized. A few inattentive employees can turn into a problem and lead businesses to lose money. Inattention disorder may be present if persons become distracted frequently.

The symptoms might be restlessness, daydreaming, and absence of mind. They need medical treatment and need to consult a psychiatrist.

Main Differences Between Neglect and Inattention

  1. Neglect is a deliberate act of ignoring somebody or some work. On the other hand, inattention means failing in paying attention to vital tasks.
  2. Neglect is a negative personality trait that everyone despises. On the contrary, inattention is a neutral trait that happens due to excess stress and load.
  3. Under neglect, care and service receivers are hurt and face loss. However, under inattention, both caretaker and care receiver is hurt because one is unable to care and the other is unable to receive care.
  4. Neglect has its root in the Roman language. On the other side, inattention has its root in the French language.
  5. Neglect is a choice. However, inattention is a disorder.
Difference Between Neglect and Inattention
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