focus

noun
fo·​cus | \ ˈfō-kəs How to pronounce focus (audio) \
plural foci\ ˈfō-​ˌsī How to pronounce foci (audio) also  -​ˌkī \ also focuses

Definition of focus

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a center of activity, attraction, or attention the focus of the meeting was drug abuse put immigration into focus as a hot topic for commentators
b : a point of concentration
2 : directed attention : emphasis The focus is on helping the homeless.
3a : direction sense 6c the team lost focus
b : a state or condition permitting clear perception or understanding tried to bring the issues into focus
c : adjustment for distinct vision also : the area that may be seen distinctly or resolved into a clear image
4a : a point at which rays (as of light, heat, or sound) converge or from which they diverge or appear to diverge specifically : the point where the geometrical lines or their prolongations conforming to the rays diverging from or converging toward another point intersect and give rise to an image after reflection by a mirror or refraction by a lens or optical system
b : a point of convergence (see convergence sense 1) of a beam of particles (such as electrons)
5 : one of the fixed points that with the corresponding directrix defines a conic section
6 : a localized area of disease or the chief site of a generalized disease or infection
7 : the place of origin of an earthquake or moonquake
in focus
: having or giving the proper sharpness of outline due to good focusing get the binoculars in focus
out of focus
: not in focus

focus

verb
focused also focussed; focusing also focussing

Definition of focus (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to cause to be concentrated focused their attention on the most urgent problems
2a : to adjust the focus of (the eye, a lens, etc.) focus the telescope
b : to bring into focus The results of that research were focused for classroom presentation.
3 : to bring (something, such as light rays) to a focus : concentrate

intransitive verb

1 : to concentrate attention or effort focus on the most pressing needs
2 : to adjust one's eye or a camera to a particular range Newborn babies cannot focus for several months.
3 : to come to a focus : converge

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Other Words from focus

Noun

focusless \ ˈfō-​kəs-​ləs How to pronounce focusless (audio) \ adjective

Verb

focusable \ ˈfō-​kə-​sə-​bəl How to pronounce focusable (audio) \ adjective
focuser noun

Did You Know?

The Latin word focus meant “hearth, fireplace.” In the scientific Latin of the 17th century, the word is used to refer to the point at which rays of light refracted by a lens converge. Because rays of sunlight when directed by a magnifying glass can produce enough heat to ignite paper, a word meaning “fireplace” is quite appropriate as a metaphor to describe their convergence point. From this sense of focus have arisen extended senses such as “center of activity.”

Examples of focus in a Sentence

Noun He's successful, but he feels that his life lacks focus. His life lacks a focus. Verb She has an amazing ability to focus for hours at a time. I wasn't able to focus the camera. I wasn't able to get the camera to focus.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Mykenna, who was the focus of Tammy’s criticisms this week, felt vindicated by Peter. Alicia Kortendick, cleveland, "The Bachelor | How to watch episode 7, live stream, time, TV channel," 11 Feb. 2020 One new priority is tickborne diseases, which were the focus of an NIH strategic plan released in October 2019. Jocelyn Kaiser, Science | AAAS, "National Institutes of Health would see 7% cut in 2021 under White House plan," 10 Feb. 2020 Social media has been a focus of Bloomberg's campaign, as his team has experimented with attempts to use humor to go viral since his presidential announcement. Anthony Leonardi, Washington Examiner, "'Most Outstanding Display of Pettiness': Bloomberg awards Trump with 'The Donalds'," 10 Feb. 2020 But cutting the deficit has not been a focus of the 2020 Democratic field, leaving an opening for Buttigieg to claim that mantle. NBC News, "Pete Buttigieg calls for deficit reduction, swiping Bernie Sanders," 9 Feb. 2020 But the defensive issues — UConn made 11-of-26 from beyond the arc after entering with an average of just six makes from deep per game — and rebounding were the focus of his post-game critique. Fletcher Page, Cincinnati.com, "Cincinnati basketball's five-game win streak snapped by UConn," 9 Feb. 2020 Early childhood development now to help create more well-rounded in the future is the focus of Harris County’s efforts to help thousands of families in the county. Roy Kent, Houston Chronicle, "Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo to host early childhood listening session," 6 Feb. 2020 There is also a focus on the health of the planet and guests. Erin Jensen, USA TODAY, "Wedding trends 2020: Sustainability, best dogs and elements of the groovy '70s," 6 Feb. 2020 Capri is the focus of an ongoing investigation by The Arizona Republic that began in 2015. Robert Anglen, azcentral, "Ex-mobster behind collapse of Toby Keith, Rascal Flatts restaurant chains indicted on fraud charges," 5 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Testing in Hubei has focused on people sick enough to seek medical care, so tens of thousands of milder cases may not have been picked up. Jon Cohen, Science | AAAS, "Labs scramble to spot hidden coronavirus infections," 11 Feb. 2020 The studies focused on rare autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease, which is caused by gene mutations that follow generations of families. Ed Silverman, STAT, "Pharmalittle: Two more Alzheimer’s drugs fail in studies; how Democratic candidates differ on lowering drug costs," 10 Feb. 2020 The narrative of Hollywood for quite some time has focused on just how disruptive streaming services could be to the status quo. Angela Watercutter, Wired, "Netflix Had a Disappointing Night at the Oscars," 10 Feb. 2020 With Medicare and Social Security largely off the table, Trump has instead focused on Medicaid, which provides care to more than 70 million poor and disabled people. Andrew Taylor, Anchorage Daily News, "Trump budget to face skepticism, overwhelming politics," 10 Feb. 2020 The Republic’s investigation focused partly on Mohave as one of several regions that have become hot spots where groundwater is being quickly depleted. Ian James, azcentral, "Mohave County leaders ask state to help safeguard declining groundwater," 9 Feb. 2020 The restaurant now focuses mainly on Italian dishes. Carol Deptolla, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "The Red Mill in Brookfield reopens with Italian fare, as Red Mill Inn & Pizza," 7 Feb. 2020 The study focused on India, China, the US, and Australia—countries that represent 70% of global coal production. Mayank Aggarwal, Quartz India, "India needs nearly 30 times more solar power to phase out coal jobs," 6 Feb. 2020 Instead, thousands of tiny antennas that cost a few pennies apiece can focus and magnify the existing signal. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "New Antenna Tech Could Make Your Phone Signal Ridiculously Strong," 6 Feb. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'focus.' 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 focus

Noun

1664, in the meaning defined at sense 4a

Verb

1807, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for focus

Noun and Verb

New Latin, from Latin, hearth

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Time Traveler for focus

Time Traveler

The first known use of focus was in 1664

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Statistics for focus

Last Updated

13 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Focus.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/focus. Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for focus

focus

noun
How to pronounce focus (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of focus

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a subject that is being discussed or studied : the subject on which people's attention is focused
: a main purpose or interest
technical : a point at which rays of light, heat, or sound meet or from which they move apart or appear to move apart especially : the point at which an image is formed by a mirror, a lens, etc.

focus

verb

English Language Learners Definition of focus (Entry 2 of 2)

: to cause (something, such as attention) to be directed at something specific
: to direct your attention or effort at something specific
: to adjust (something, such as a lens or a camera) to make an image clear

focus

noun
fo·​cus | \ ˈfō-kəs How to pronounce focus (audio) \
plural foci\ ˈfō-​ˌsī \ also focuses

Kids Definition of focus

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a point at which rays (as of light, heat, or sound) meet after being reflected or bent : the point at which an image is formed
2 : the distance from a lens or mirror to a focus
3 : an adjustment that gives clear vision He turned his head almost upside down to get a more acute focus on her …— Jean Craighead George, Julie of the Wolves
4 : a center of activity or interest Fractions are the focus of this lesson.

focus

verb
focused also focussed; focusing also focussing

Kids Definition of focus (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to bring or come to a focus focus rays of light
2 : to adjust the focus of He focused his binoculars.
3 : to direct or cause to direct at Focus your attention here.

focus

noun
fo·​cus | \ ˈfō-kəs How to pronounce focus (audio) \
plural foci\ ˈfō-​ˌsī also -​ˌkī \ also focuses

Medical Definition of focus

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a point at which rays (as of light, heat, or sound) converge or from which they diverge or appear to diverge specifically : the point where the geometrical lines or their prolongations conforming to the rays diverging from or converging toward another point intersect and give rise to an image after reflection by a mirror or refraction by a lens or optical system
b : a point of convergence of a beam of particles (as electrons)
b : adjustment for distinct vision also : the area that may be seen distinctly or resolved into a clear image
3 : a localized area of disease or the chief site of a generalized disease or infection

focus

verb
focused also focussed; focusing also focussing

Medical Definition of focus (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to bring (as light rays) to a focus
2a : to adjust the focus of (as the eye or a lens)
b : to bring (as an image) into focus

intransitive verb

1 : to come to a focus
2 : to adjust one's eye or a camera to a particular range

Other Words from focus

focusable \ -​kəs-​ə-​bəl How to pronounce focusable (audio) \ adjective

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More from Merriam-Webster on focus

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for focus

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with focus

Spanish Central: Translation of focus

Nglish: Translation of focus for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of focus for Arabic Speakers

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