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I'd like to express something using an analogy of a cat vs. dog fighting because they want to garner attention. The dog wants attention vs. the cat wanting attention. Does it make sense to say "garner attention"?

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    I first thought it's a bit "dated", but per this NGram, it's actually recent. But attract attention is far more common. Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 15:42
  • Can you tell us how you would use it in an example sentence (not just your analogy)? It might improve your question enough to keep it from being closed. (+1 for FF's comment, as usual.) Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 16:09

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The connotation I've always seen implied with garner is that the attention is deserved. So this is correct:

The recession in Ghana garnered attention due to its impact on small farmers.

This is less correct:

Felicia was getting pretty good publicity for her school president campaign until Max garnered all the attention with his sob story. (??)

Also, it's not quite right to say that someone garners attention on behalf of something else. This is odd:

The Blue Shoes Band garnered a lot of attention for the local hospital by putting on a free concert. (??)

This is better:

The free concert put on by the Blue Shoes Band garnered a lot of attention. With it, they were able to raise awareness for the local hospital.

Alternately, it's perfectly fine to say "garnered attention for something else" if the earner garners attention to themselves, because of something else:

The Danville Volunteers garnered a lot of attention for defending 2,000 homes from a wildfire.

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I have always used the word garner in this way. The second definition of the word "garner" through Merriam-Webster is:

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a : to acquire by effort : earn; "garnered much praise for his fundraising"

b : accumulate, collect

So, the cat and dog are both working to acquire attention by effort, so yes, it is an accurate usage of the word garner.

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