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I encountered this phrase in Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esben_and_the_witch

His brothers did not stand to attention for Sir Red...

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Stand at attention or stand to attention both mean "assume a military posture of motionless alertness". You may also see come to attention (but never *come at attention). In the context you provide it means the brothers did not show militaristic respect for Sir Red.

The form stand at attention is more often found in the modern (US) military, but to attention is not incorrect and both may be heard in other countries or in historical usage.

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At attention (rather than to attention) is a military posture, and is in effect a form of salute.

As such it is a conventional way of showing respect, often used when somebody senior enters the room.

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This is not a particularly well-written Wikipedia article. Henry is correct that it should have been written "did not stand at attention..." – JLG Apr 30 '12 at 14:04
Actually both usages are found. "At attention" is more common in the modern US military, but "to attention" is not incorrect. – Mark Beadles Apr 30 '12 at 15:02

As an order, particularly British, one may hear "have the men stand to attention" after which they may be said to have been "stood to attention" (as if by some unseen hand). One may also say they are standing to attention, even after the action has occurred.

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Standing at attention describes a posture. Standing to attention describes an action of purpose.

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