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

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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

Not everyone is here for the medical aspect of this but that’s solely our focus. Marco Santana, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Marijuana advocates promote education amidst growing legalization push," 14 July 2018 Eastern played particularly well late last season, and his focus has turned to building on his performance to benefit the Boilermakers. Michael Osipoff, Post-Tribune, "Evanston grad Nojel Eastern 'living in the moment' at Purdue after NBA draft process," 14 July 2018 According to The Sun, Bournemouth have now switched their focus to Leganes left back Diego Rico. SI.com, "Bournemouth Switch Attention to Leganes Full Back as Cherries Baulk at Kieran Tierney Asking Price," 13 July 2018 However, the appeal could push Comcast to narrow its focus to one of the main prizes in the Fox chase: European pay-TV operator Sky PLC. Shalini Ramachandran, WSJ, "Comcast’s Pursuit of Fox Just Got Tougher," 13 July 2018 Jenson then turned his focus to live-action features as a production illustrator on Escape to Witch Mountain (1975) and Logan's Run (1976). Mike Barnes, The Hollywood Reporter, "George Jenson, Illustrator on 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' and 'Return of the Jedi,' Dies at 87," 13 July 2018 At the Swedish Mission to the UN, in addition to her focus on migration and humanitarian issues, Fernström Nåtby attended negotiations on a new rulebook meant to uphold people’s rights to a sound environment through the weight of international law. Mejs Hasan, WIRED, "The Ultimate Carbon-Saving Tip? Travel by Cargo Ship," 12 July 2018 While the Obama administration formed a similar task force in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, Trump’s decision to create his own version allows his administration to direct its focus. Bloomberg, Fortune, "Trump's New Task Force Will Take On Crypto Crime," 11 July 2018 Preston says his organization’s focus has been on collaboration and power-building with local groups. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Rent control and tenants’ rights set to be larger political issues in 2018 elections," 11 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Players just really need to focus on getting themselves ready and going out and playing. Jordan Culver, Pro Soccer USA, "Orlando Pride have sense of urgency going into match against Utah Royals," 13 July 2018 Fifty years later, the national Shriners organization decided to focus its charitable work on child welfare and opened the first Shriners hospital in Shreveport, Louisiana. Maria L. La Ganga, idahostatesman, "What’s behind ’60s-era paneling at El Korah Shrine? A ballroom’s worth of ’20s art.," 12 July 2018 Sterling, who has recently partnered with Clorox and their Clean is the Beginning campaign, admitted that much of the season is going to focus on Deja, Beth and Randall's foster child. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "'This Is Us' Star Sterling K. Brown Just Shared Major Spoilers From Season 3," 11 July 2018 Home1, a national advocacy group that formed to push for more affordable housing, hopes to impact the next election, but has its plans and resources focused on action for 2020, according to spokesperson Christiaan Boer. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Rent control and tenants’ rights set to be larger political issues in 2018 elections," 11 July 2018 While tabloids might be focused on headlines questioning the status of Jamie Foxx’s and Katie Holmes’s relationship, that is not the real story of the summer. Hilary Weaver, Vanities, "Let It Be Known That Suri Cruise Is Having a Better Summer Than Anyone," 2 July 2018 The series will focus on her designing her new home, as well as helping eight other families design theirs. Candace Braun Davison, House Beautiful, "Christina El Moussa Gets Heartbreakingly Honest About Her Divorce From Tarek," 2 July 2018 The founders sold the restaurant in October 2001 in order to focus on their iconic French restaurant, Tallgrass. Patrick Z. Mcgavin, Daily Southtown, "Guide to outdoor dining in Chicago suburbs: Public Landing in Lockport," 8 July 2018 As growth slows, the city has an opportunity to focus on redevelopment of downtown and working with the city’s neighborhoods, Nelson said. Sarah Freishtat, Aurora Beacon-News, "Aurora in 2018: With population no longer booming, city looks to downtown for future growth," 6 July 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.

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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

New Latin, from Latin, hearth

Verb

see focus entry 1

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Phrases Related to focus

into focus

Statistics for focus

Last Updated

9 Oct 2018

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

: 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

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Comments on focus

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