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
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 \ 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Asked if the plan includes immigrants in the U.S. illegally in San Diego, Faulconer said in an interview that his focus at this point is on refugees and immigrants who have green cards or citizenship, adding that the blueprint is an evolving plan. Julie Watson, The Seattle Times, "San Diego mayor unveils plan to integrate immigrants," 4 Feb. 2019 On Thursday, January 31, Meghan will continue her focus on accessibility and inclusivity with a visit to the Association of Commonwealth Universities, an organization dedicated to building a better world through higher education. Omid Scobie, Harper's BAZAAR, "Prince Harry & Duchess Meghan Make Diversity & Youth Issues a Priority During Busy Day of Engagements," 30 Jan. 2019 His primary focus was on domestic law enforcement, particularly street crime — this was, after all, during the peak of the crime wave of the late 20th century. Dara Lind, Vox, "William Barr hearing: attorney general nominee’s immigration record aligns with Trump’s," 16 Jan. 2019 Don’t expect its hardcore focus on survival and crafting to change, however. Andrew Webster, The Verge, "The 40 games we can’t wait to play in 2019," 26 Dec. 2018 According to analysis by the National Association of Home Builders, the average and median home sizes have been steadily falling for the last few years, indicating that builders are turning their focus to more entry-level home production. Jeff Andrews, Curbed, "Why shrinking U.S. homes may be a boost to homebuyers," 29 Nov. 2018 Perhaps at night, when your time is your own, keep remembering them by catching up on one of these three excellent new (one just new-ish) television shows that have veterans as their central focus. Ryan D'agostino, Popular Mechanics, "Three Great New Shows About Veterans to Watch This Weekend," 9 Nov. 2018 Briggs has spent more than two decades planning trips to Africa, and her latest focus is lesser-known but awe-inspiring places like Cameroon, the Central African Republic, and Zambia. Paul Brady, Condé Nast Traveler, "2018 Top Travel Specialists We Trust," 19 Oct. 2018 While the two styles contradict each other in some ways, the main tenant that peganism borrows from both is a focus on real, whole foods. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "What Is the Pegan Diet? It's Not as Simple as Paleo + Vegan," 17 Jan. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Traditional brands have also been under pressure from retailers like Walmart Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. to keep prices low, pushing the manufacturers to focus on lowering costs in their supply chains or paring back advertising. Aisha Al-muslim, WSJ, "Prepare to Pay More for Diapers, Clorox and Cat Litter," 11 Feb. 2019 At this stage of her life Diane wants to spread her message to women through a variety of outlets—podcasts, a YouTube channel, more books—and to focus on philanthropy. Alex Kuczynski, Town & Country, "Diane and Talita von Furstenberg Turn an American Empire into a Family Dynasty," 7 Feb. 2019 Architect Warren Planter believed that an architects job was not to focus on personal expression, like a painter or sculptor, but rather served to express the needs of others. Carisha Swanson, House Beautiful, "The Platner Arm Chair Will Add Instant Mid-Century Sophistication to Your Home," 1 Feb. 2019 The movie seems to focus on their relationship, which occurred while Ted was committing multiple murders without her knowledge. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Everything to Know About Zac Efron's New Ted Bundy Movie "Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile"," 29 Jan. 2019 Tesla still has to make good on its original promise to deliver a version of the car that starts at $35,000, which Musk delayed until 2019 in order to focus on more expensive, higher-margin trims. Sean O'kane, The Verge, "The Verge 2018 tech report card: Tesla," 29 Dec. 2018 After deciding to focus on her solo projects and moving back to her home state of California, Young was ready to let go and try something new. Devon Abelman, Allure, "How Beauty Keeps Tiffany Young True to Her K-Pop Roots," 9 Nov. 2018 Mitchell said some builders are beginning to shift their focus away from luxury properties to more affordable homes. Josh Boak, The Seattle Times, "Analysis: Falling home sales not helping middle-class buyers," 23 Jan. 2019 Per Deadline, each episode will run for half an hour and will focus its plot on a different topic. Sara Delgado, Teen Vogue, "Dylan O'Brien and Auli'i Cravalho's New Show "Weird City" Has Its First Trailer," 10 Jan. 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

13 Feb 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 \
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)
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

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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

Comments on focus

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