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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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

That slight shift represents a major change in emphasis that could soon ripple through the nation’s courtrooms, bringing with it a legal recognition that pets have interests independent of their human owners. Elisa Orzac Shoenberger, BostonGlobe.com, "When a marriage ends, who gets the family pet?," 13 July 2018 But the newfound emphasis on rich, high caloric-marrow draws attention to the variety of practices that contributed to today’s nimble fingers. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Did the Human Hand Evolve as a Lean Mean Bone-Smashing Machine?," 13 July 2018 Air pollution, and smog in particular, is the reason California places so much emphasis on air-quality standards. Rob Jackson, Scientific American, "Relaxing Vehicle-Efficiency Standards Is a Truly Dangerous Idea," 12 July 2018 Martirano’s emphasis on mental health was highlighted during the budget session for the fiscal year that began July 1. Jess Nocera, Howard County Times, "'Moving the needle' in county public schools: Superintendent's first academic year marked by challenges, rebuilding," 12 July 2018 Maybe this emphasis now is getting back to his roots, what he was raised on. Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan football is rebuilding its recruiting pipeline in Ohio. Here's why.," 12 July 2018 There are plenty of things that have spooked the Mac faithful: the ever-lengthening months between Mac product updates, the recent issues with the MacBook keyboards, and, above all, the company’s emphasis on the iPhone. Dieter Bohn, The Verge, "Apple’s new MacBook Pros have the latest Intel processors and quieter keyboards," 12 July 2018 That’s what led to the extra emphasis on the fundamentals during early work. Bobby Nightengale, Cincinnati.com, "Jim Riggleman shows his own style of managing in interim role with Cincinnati Reds," 12 July 2018 About half the game is a visual novel, with branching dialogue and a strong emphasis on character and mood. Julie Muncy, WIRED, "Extreme Meatpunks Forever," 11 July 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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Phrases Related to emphasis

lay great stress/emphasis on

Statistics for emphasis

Last Updated

12 Sep 2018

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).


to deposit or conceal in a hiding place

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