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

Could his—and American's—emphasis on these airports mean other airlines will follow? Katherine Lagrave, Condé Nast Traveler, "American Airlines to Add 18 New Routes Next Summer," 13 Dec. 2018 The kids and their teacher decided a new guidebook, with more emphasis on outdoor spaces, was a needed. Erin Kirkland, Anchorage Daily News, "From Halibut Cove to neighborhood parks, here’s a guidebook written by kids," 26 June 2018 After the Soviet Union dissolved, the Army’s emphasis on short range air defense waned. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "The U.S. Puts More Pieces on Europe's WWIII Chessboard," 10 Sep. 2018 Season 2 placed a lot of emphasis on Randall's college decision, taking a good portion of one episode to showcase his visit to Howard University with Jack. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "'This Is Us' Casts 'Malcolm in the Middle' Star Jane Kaczmarek in Season 3," 22 Aug. 2018 That’s also been a point of emphasis for Maddon, who has seen Baez grow into a more polished fielder. Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY, "El Mago: Javier Baez's flair is just what baseball needs," 12 July 2018 Bacon could benefit from Borrego’s emphasis on upping the offensive tempo; Borrego wants his team attacking aggressively in the first five to eight seconds of a possession. Rick Bonnell, charlotteobserver, "Why Charlotte Hornets' new coaching staff likes a big slice of Dwayne Bacon," 3 July 2018 Based on his writings and campaign rhetoric, Lopez Obrador appears to put less of an emphasis on making nice with the United States than his predecessors. Michael R. Pompeo, latimes.com, "Today: How Thailand’s Lost Boys Were Found," 3 July 2018 Kenneth Kaufman, managing director of the health care consulting firm Kaufman Hall, said the acquisition falls into the sweet spot of Amazon’s targets, in part because of PillPack’s emphasis on helping people take their medications as directed. BostonGlobe.com, "Amazon to buy Somerville online pharmacy startup PillPack," 28 June 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

14 Mar 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 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).


the range of authority or knowledge

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