em·​pha·​sis | \ ˈem(p)-fə-səs How to pronounce emphasis (audio) \
plural emphases\ ˈem(p)-​fə-​ˌsēz How to pronounce emphases (audio) \

Definition of emphasis

1a : force or intensity of expression that gives impressiveness or importance to something
b : a particular prominence given in reading or speaking to one or more words or syllables
2 : special consideration of or stress or insistence on something

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Synonyms & Antonyms for emphasis


accent, accentuation, stress, underscoring, weight



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Examples of emphasis in a Sentence

Our candidate's plan has a different emphasis. a prep school with a long-established emphasis on sports

Recent Examples on the Web

The book makes the case that today’s emphasis on home cooking and eating as a nuclear family doesn’t line up with reality. Ambreen Ali, Washington Post, "Today’s parents think they lack the time or skill to throw dinner parties. They’re missing out.," 17 June 2019 The stubbornly high number of people killed in crashes comes despite a heightened emphasis on advanced safety systems in new vehicles, such as collision avoidance, lane departure warning and partially automated steering. Nathan Bomey, USA TODAY, "2018 was third-deadliest year of the decade on American roads, NHTSA says," 17 June 2019 The award-winning development offers a wide variety of housing options and extensive outdoor amenities, with a strong emphasis on conserving and enhancing the natural environment. Houston Chronicle, "M/I Homes begins construction of Benefit home in Bridgeland," 16 June 2019 Besides a fresh emphasis on greenery, three structural reforms stand out: reorganisation of the public sector, reform of unemployment insurance and welfare benefits, and rationalisation of the French pension system. The Economist, "France’s president kicks off a second round of reforms," 15 June 2019 Ultimately, the California vote will be shaped by the results of the first four early states, and Harris has been investing heavily in Iowa staff and making a special emphasis on South Carolina and Nevada. Casey Tolan, The Mercury News, "Kamala Harris drops in the polls as Democratic rivals grab the spotlight," 15 June 2019 Keeping hold of Grujic negates that need to invest in central midfield, which also means that more emphasis ore can be placed on improving the rest of the squad. SI.com, "Marko Grujic: Why Liverpool May Regret Selling the Hertha Berlin Loan Star This Summer," 14 June 2019 But Ferguson believes that New Jersey Superior Court’s emphasis on penalizing JONAH’s activities as fraud opens up an opportunity to target conversion therapy providers in all 50 states. Nico Lang, NBC News, "Conversion therapy provider must dissolve, pay millions, judge rules," 13 June 2019 Verbal markers such as intonation, prosody, and emphasis are what allow Irony Man to imbue sarcasm into conversation. Daisy Hernandez, Popular Mechanics, "This Eye-Rolling Robot Understands Irony and Will Sass You Hard," 13 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'emphasis.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of emphasis

1534, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

History and Etymology for emphasis

Latin, from Greek, exposition, emphasis, from emphainein to indicate, from en- + phainein to show — more at fancy

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Statistics for emphasis

Last Updated

20 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for emphasis

The first known use of emphasis was in 1534

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More Definitions for emphasis



English Language Learners Definition of emphasis

: a forceful quality in the way something is said or written
: added force that is given to a word or syllable when speaking
: special importance or attention given to something


em·​pha·​sis | \ ˈem-fə-səs How to pronounce emphasis (audio) \
plural emphases\ -​ˌsēz \

Kids Definition of emphasis

1 : a forcefulness in the way something is said or written that gives it special attention or importance
2 : special force given to one or more words or syllables in speaking or reading In the word "vacation," the emphasis is on the second syllable.
3 : special attention or importance given to something

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Comments on emphasis

What made you want to look up emphasis? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


having a desire to acquire more things

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