Webster 1913 Edition



The act attaching, or state of being attached; close adherence or affection; fidelity; regard; an[GREEK] passion of affection that binds a person;
as, an
to a friend, or to a party
That by which one thing is attached to another; connection;
as, to cut the
of a muscle
The human mind . . . has exhausted its forces in the endeavor to rend the supernatural from its
to this history.
I. Taylor.
Something attached; some adjunct attached to an instrument, machine, or other object;
as, a sewing machine
(i. e., a device attached to a sewing machine to enable it to do special work, as tucking, etc.)
(Giv. Law)
A seizure or taking into custody by virtue of a legal process.
The writ or percept commanding such seizure or taking.
☞ The term is applied to a seizure or taking either of persons or property. In the serving of process in a civil suit, it is most generally applied to the taking of property, whether at common law, as a species of distress, to compel defendant’s appearance, or under local statutes, to satisfy the judgment the plaintiff may recover in the action. The terms attachment and arrest are both applied to the taking or apprehension of a defendant to compel an appearance in a civil action. Attachments are issued at common law and in chancery, against persons for contempt of court. In England, attachment is employed in some cases where capias is with us, as against a witness who fails to appear on summons. In some of the New England States a writ of attachment is a species of mesne process upon which the property of a defendant may be seized at the commencement of a suit and before summons to him, and may be held to satisfy the judgment the plaintiff may recover. In other States this writ can issue only against absconding debtors and those who conceal themselves. See
Trustee process
The leading idea of affection is that of warmth and tenderness; the leading idea of attachment is that of being bound to some object by strong and lasting ties. There is more of sentiment (and sometimes of romance) in affection, and more of principle in preserving attachment. We speak of the ardor of the one, and the fidelity of the other. There is another distinction in the use and application of these words. The term attachment is applied to a wider range of objects than affection. A man may have a strong attachment to his country, to his profession, to his principles, and even to favorite places; in respect to none of these could we use the word affection.

Webster 1828 Edition



A taking of the person, goods or estate by a writ or precept in a civil action, to secure a debt or demand.
A writ directing the person or estate of a person to be taken, to secure his appearance before a court. In England, the first notice to appear in court is by summons; and if the defendant disobeys this monition, a writ of attachment issues, commanding the sheriff to attach him, by taking gage, or security in goods, which he forfeits by non-appearance, or by making him find safe pledges or sureties for his appearance. But in trespasses, an attachment is more generally the first process, and in some states, the writ of attachment issues at first against the property or person of the defendant. In Connecticut, this writ issues against the person, goods or land, in the first instance, commanding to take the goods and estate of the defendant, if to be found; or otherwise, to take his body. In England, witnesses not appearing upon a summons, may be taken by attachment; a process called with us a capias. Attachments also issue against persons for contempt of court. The court of attachments, in England, is held before the verderors of the forest, to attach and try offenders against vert and vension.
Foreign attachment is the taking of the money or goods of a debtor in the hands of a stranger; as when the debtor is not within the jurisdiction of the court or has absconded. Any person who has goods or effects of a debtor, is considered in law as the agent, attorney, factor or trustee of the debtor; and an attachment served on such person binds the property in his hands to respond the judgment against the debtor.
Close adherence or affection; fidelity; regard; any passion or affection that binds a person; as, an attachment to a friend, or to a party.

Definition 2024





attachment (countable and uncountable, plural attachments)

  1. The act or process of (physically or figuratively) attaching.
    • 2005, Rebecca N. Baergen, Manual of Benirschke and Kaufmann's Pathology of the Human Placenta, page 71:
      The “implantation window” is a short, specific phase during which attachment of the blastocyst occurs.
  2. A strong bonding towards or with.
    I have such an attachment towards my fiancé!
  3. A dependence, especially a strong one.
    • 2003, Griffith Edwards, Alcohol: The World's Favorite Drug, page 63:
      Through every other kind of drug experience, however, ran his attachment to alcohol.
  4. A device attached to a piece of equipment or a tool.
    • 1978, Walter H. Wager, Time of reckoning, page 194:
      Zimchenko's phone had a tape attachment, []
  5. The means by which something is physically attached.
    • 2012, Sinikka Elliott, Not My Kid: What Parents Believe about the Sex Lives of Their Teenagers, page 46:
      [The umbilical cord is] the attachment connecting the fetus with the placenta.
  6. (computing) A file sent along with an email.
  7. (law) Taking a person's property to satisfy a court-ordered debt.
    attachment of earnings
  8. (meteorology) The act or process by which any (downward) leader connects to any available (upward) streamer in a lightning flash.
    • 2009, Jakke Mäkelä, Eero Karvinen, Niko Porjo, Antti Mäkelä and Tapio Tuomi, Attachment of Natural Lightning Flashes to Trees: Preliminary Statistical Characteristics, published in the Journal of Lightning Research, volume 1


Derived terms



  • IPA(key): /ɛˈtɛtʃmənt/, /ɑˈtɛtʃmənt/
  • Hyphenation: at‧tach‧ment


Borrowing from English attachment


attachment m, n (plural attachments)

  1. attachment (to an email)