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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Rodriguez called for responsible gun use and an increased emphasis on mental health, instead of placing the blame on guns themselves. Bree Burkitt, azcentral, "Heard at rally for 2nd Amendment rights: 'We aren’t letting our guns go'," 7 July 2018 Niccol said the company will ramp up marketing, launch a customer-loyalty program nationally in 2019 and put more emphasis on digital ordering. Zlati Meyer, USA TODAY, "Chipotle to close up to 65 stores this year," 27 June 2018 That puts more emphasis on getting a good shot off the tee even more. Shawn Mcfarland, courant.com, "Players Look To Practice Patience At TPC River Highlands This Week," 21 June 2018 The designs of buildings like these put more emphasis on practicality than aesthetics. Sven Berg, idahostatesman, "Why are Downtown Boise buildings so boring?," 20 June 2018 While often considered an opportunity for lawmakers to put aside their partisan differences for a good cause, the shooting put a new emphasis on focusing on the positive. Ryan Nobles, CNN, "Scalise records first out in return to Congressional Baseball Game for Charity," 14 June 2018 Onrush veers off the Burnout path by putting a singular emphasis on competitive multiplayer. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Onrush game review: Sexy arcade racing in serious need of a tune-up," 5 June 2018 Economists put a big emphasis on permits because of all the jobs connected to the real estate industry, such as construction. Phillip Molnar, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Report: San Diego economy slowed in April after 18 months of growth," 1 June 2018 And there's no doubt that Patricia will put a heavy emphasis on tackling. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Lions' new defense as versatile as advertised at OTAs," 24 May 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about emphasis

Dictionary Entries near emphasis








Statistics for emphasis

Last Updated

7 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for emphasis

The first known use of emphasis was in 1534

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


something that serves to warn or remind

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Autumn Words of the Day 2018

  • a-top-down-image-of-road-through-an-autumn-forest
  • Which is a synonym of fugacious?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!