Of physical forces (magnets, etc.), from 17c. Figurative sense of "be attractive, draw to oneself the eyes or attentions of others" is from 1690s. Related: Attracted; attracting.
c. 1400, attraccioun, originally medical, "action or property of drawing (diseased matter) to the surface," from Old French atraccion (13c.) and directly from Latin attractionem (nominative attractio) "a drawing together," noun of action from past-participle stem of attrahere "to draw, pull" (see attract).
Extended by c. 1600 to magnetic forces; figurative sense "quality in a person which draws interest or imagination" is from c. 1600. Meaning "a thing which draws a crowd, interesting or amusing exhibition" is from 1829, a sense that developed in English and soon transferred to the French equivalent of the word.
1927, originally hobo slang, "counterfeit seizures induced to attract sympathy;" meaning "energetic celebration" is by 1949. As a type of dingbat fonts made by Microsoft, from 1990.
1962, vulgar or working class pronunciation of hoy a call or shout to attract attention (compare ahoy).
1570s, "endeavor to gain the favor of by amorous attention," also "solicit, seek to win or attract," from court (n.), based on the sorts of behavior associated with royal courts. Related: Courted; courting.