em·​pha·​sis | \ ˈem(p)-fə-səs \
plural emphases\ ˈem(p)-​fə-​ˌsēz \

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

From the sounds of it, creative is an expansion of the previous playground mode, putting an emphasis on building rather than battling. Andrew Webster, The Verge, "Fortnite’s Minecraft-like creative mode launches tomorrow," 5 Dec. 2018 SpaceFactory puts an emphasis on efficiently creating cylinders with multiple stories, building vertically. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Here's What NASA Thinks Mars Houses Could Look Like," 30 July 2018 That's because the original retail packaging for Warhawk included a pretty clear disclaimer: SCEA reserves the right to retire the online portion of this game with 90 days notice [emphasis added]. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Sony keeping Warhawk, other PS3 game servers live through January [Updated]," 2 Nov. 2018 The new plans include putting greater emphasis on attacking cartels’ financial infrastructure. Michael Tarm, The Seattle Times, "APNewsBreak: US, Mexico to announce new plans on cartels," 14 Aug. 2018 New head coach Mike Vrabel and offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur have vowed to tailor the offense around his strengths, meaning fans should expect a greater emphasis on spread formations, tempo, play action and run-pass options. Jason Wolf, USA TODAY, "Titans training camp questions: What can Mike Vrabel, new staff do for Marcus Mariota?," 21 June 2018 Match that with a greater emphasis on primary care so that everybody has a primary care physician. Andrea K. Mcdaniels, baltimoresun.com, "Retiring CareFirst CEO Chet Burrell discusses the future of health care and insurance," 15 June 2018 Yet Jive also showed the limits of ambition, the missteps that come from placing too much emphasis on growth at the expense of sustained success. Mike Rogoway, OregonLive.com, "Jive Software: An inspiration and cautionary tale for Portland tech," 1 May 2018 This doesn't appear to be done with some cel-shading technique, mind you, but with an emphasis on higher-contrast pop from the levels' busy backgrounds. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Smash Bros. Ultimate review: The best fighting game on any Nintendo system," 6 Dec. 2018

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

17 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

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 \
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).


someone who never drinks alcohol

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