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

So the focus will be on both the inexperienced crew of the German submarine U-612 (on its maiden voyage and a secret mission) and members of the Allied forces and the French resistance. Mark Dawidziak, cleveland.com, "‘Das Boot’ series among top viewing choices," 15 June 2019 That puts the focus on biofuels, which generate fewer emissions than traditional jet fuel. Lauren Zumbach, chicagotribune.com, "Airlines turn to sustainable fuels, carbon offsets, compostable cutlery to fend off environmental 'flight shame' stigma," 14 June 2019 Murphy wants the rebranding to put more focus on these businesses and give the company a name that's more dynamic (and, incidentally, easier on copy editors). Robert Levine, Billboard, "Out With the ole: Anthem CEO Helen Murphy Talks New Name, a Rush Endorsement & Overpriced Catalogs," 14 June 2019 Taylor said that for the time being, the focus will be on patients in Ohio but the OneFifteen model could eventually be replicated in other parts of the country where opioid abuse is prevalent. Paul R. La Monica, CNN, "Google owner Alphabet is tackling the opioid crisis," 14 June 2019 This brewery and gastropub will put the focus on their Da Plane Boss... Rod Stafford Hagwood, sun-sentinel.com, "A guide to South Florida’s bourbon bars," 12 June 2019 Finally, with Durant on the court, the focus of all discussion was the game itself. Louisa Thomas, The New Yorker, "Kevin Durant and Achilles, Two Heroes Who Had Decisions to Make," 11 June 2019 SeaWorld, which was a focus of the documentary, was sharply critical of the production but eventually agreed to concessions as criticism of its treatment of whales persisted. Anchorage Daily News, "With ‘Free Willy’ bill, Canada bans captivity and breeding of whales and dolphins," 11 June 2019 What’s more, a focus of the latest ALL research is identifying the genetic drivers of each child’s disease, then tailoring the intensity of treatment to minimize toxicity. Marie Mccullough, https://www.inquirer.com, "How conquering a rare leukemia in children revolutionized cancer care for millions," 6 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The authors of the study say previous research on the issue has been a mixed bag, often focused on the role of conditions like strokes and sometimes showing a more rapid cognitive decline thereafter. Michael Nedelman, CNN, "Heart disease can have long-term impact on the mind, study says," 17 June 2019 Las Vegas for example, is seeing an increase in properties focusing on health and wellness, designating specific rooms and floors to cater to wellness-minded guests. Adrienne Jordan, USA TODAY, "Wake up and work out: Hotels increasingly offer in-room fitness amenities," 17 June 2019 Wildlife Watch is an investigative reporting project between National Geographic Society and National Geographic Partners focusing on wildlife exploitation. Paul Hilton, National Geographic, "Poaching is sending the shy, elusive pangolin to its doom," 17 June 2019 To conduct the work, researchers dissected the remains of four wolves and six dogs, focusing on their faces. David Grimm, Science | AAAS, "We may have helped give our canine pals ‘puppy dog eyes’," 17 June 2019 Under manager Brandon Hyde, the major league representative of a franchise focused on the future, the Orioles have had one true mandate this season: compete for nine innings and make the plays you're supposed to make. Jon Meoli, baltimoresun.com, "Orioles' Brandon Hyde lays into sloppy team: 'They need to start appreciating the opportunity that they're getting'," 16 June 2019 Other polls of key battleground states show that these latest numbers aren’t a fluke; a mid-May poll from Quinnipiac focusing on Pennsylvania has Harris tying Trump 45% to 45%, while Warren beats Trump 47% to 44%. Lily Herman, refinery29.com, "Yes, A Woman Can Beat Trump In 2020. Here's How.," 15 June 2019 Pastor Steven Anderson, who founded Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, spoke to the crowd that gathered near the parking lot outside the Revival Baptist Church of Orlando, which planned the three-day event focusing on homosexuality. Stephen Dowell, orlandosentinel.com, "Pastor attending ‘Make America Straight Again’ calls homosexuality ‘perversion’ in confrontation with protesters," 15 June 2019 Protesters focused on the vital role of taking action to be heard, rather than dwelling on the likely outcome. Tripti Lahiri, Quartz, "Hong Kong has pulled off an amazing win against a dire threat to its freedoms," 15 June 2019

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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Statistics for focus

Last Updated

19 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for focus

The first known use of focus was in 1664

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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
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

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

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