focus

noun
fo·​cus | \ˈfō-kəs \
plural foci\ˈfō-​ˌsī 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

d : focal length

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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from focus

Noun

focusless \ˈfō-​kəs-​ləs \ adjective

Verb

focusable \ˈfō-​kə-​sə-​bəl \ 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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Today the focus is on unique campers that can sleep a family, which means at least two adults and two kids comfortably. Megan Barber, Curbed, "The 5 best campers for people with kids," 30 Nov. 2018 Notably, the focus here is on doing machine learning tasks on the local device. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, "Apple walks Ars through the iPad Pro’s A12X system on a chip," 7 Nov. 2018 The focus is on themselves and the way their partner makes them feel. Amanda Mitchell, Marie Claire, "The "Wonderful Weirdness" of Female Sexuality," 23 Oct. 2018 Your intention was to cause a scandal & to become the focus of media attention. Alexandra Deabler, Fox News, "Yandy's 'sexy Native American' costume sparks Twitter backlash: 'You're filth'," 24 Sep. 2018 While much of the focus has been on controversial pipeline projects, getting the oil to our ports is only half the problem. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "Offshore Mega-Terminals Are Coming Because Oil Supertankers Are Too Big for Our Ports," 14 Sep. 2018 Different degrees mean different job purviews and training focus, and one is not necessarily better than another. SELF, "9 Awkward Questions You Probably Want to Ask Your New Therapist," 31 Oct. 2018 For anyone unfamiliar, meditation is an ancient technique involving intense focus on an object, thought, or activity, and has been used for approximately 5,000 years by those seeking to achieve a clear state of mind. Kaleigh Fasanella, Allure, "How Meditating Daily for a Month Helped Improve My Skin," 27 Oct. 2018 To achieve this type of output requires strong leadership, courage, unwavering focus, and a workaholic attitude, which Foster possess. Diana Budds, Curbed, "Based on your zodiac sign, what should your Halloween costume be?," 10 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

But while focusing on fashion can sometimes be a negative result of sexist criticism, that's not always case. Rebekka Ayres, Teen Vogue, "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Destroyed Shoes Are Now a Historical Artifact," 30 Nov. 2018 In another ode to the cheerleading film, Grande plays a mixtape in her bedroom and dances on her bed—only this time, the mixtape is for Ari from Ari, a nod to the single’s message about focusing on one’s self after a breakup. Christian Allaire, Vogue, "Um, We Need to Talk About Pete Davidson’s Page in Ariana Grande’s Burn Book," 30 Nov. 2018 Some critics have said that instead of copying popular social media features, YouTube should focus on fixing its ongoing issues, including demonetization problems and advertising concerns. Recode Staff, Recode, "Recode Daily: Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg asked for George Soros research," 30 Nov. 2018 For the uninformed, Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a martial art focused on grappling, ground fighting, wrestling and submissions. Mike Vorel, The Seattle Times, "How did Seahawks pass-rusher Jacob Martin prepare for his rookie season? Jiu-jitsu.," 28 Nov. 2018 Ikea announced an effort to ramp up e-commerce operations operations back in 2015, focusing mainly on bringing most of its catalog online. Jenny Xie, Curbed, "Why your Ikea shopping experience may be changing soon," 26 Nov. 2018 Critics have dogged Nununu from the outset, according to Adler and Milchberg, because the brand focuses on changing clothing concepts as well as attitudes about children and gender. Nadra Nittle, Vox, "Céline Dion has a new gender-neutral clothing line for kids," 16 Nov. 2018 Over in the House, incoming Democratic committee chairmen, led by soon-to-be Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, are vowing an investigation blitz focused on collusion with Russia. Kimberley A. Strassel, WSJ, "Doubling Down on Mueller," 15 Nov. 2018 Learning to be a coach-leader The Seattle University NCS program is increasingly focusing on coaching strategies, and weaving coaching into the very DNA of the program. The Seattle Times, "Leadership coaching for organizational success," 14 Nov. 2018

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.

See More

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

New Latin, from Latin, hearth

Verb

see focus entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about focus

Statistics for focus

Last Updated

4 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for focus

The first known use of focus was in 1664

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for focus

focus

noun

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

: 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 \
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 \
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)

2a : focal length

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 \ adjective

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on focus

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with focus

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for focus

Spanish Central: Translation of focus

Nglish: Translation of focus for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of focus for Arabic Speakers

Comments on focus

What made you want to look up focus? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

amusing and light sparring with words

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

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

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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