focus

1 of 2

noun

fo·​cus ˈfō-kəs How to pronounce focus (audio)
plural foci ˈfō-ˌsī How to pronounce focus (audio)
 also  -ˌkī
also focuses
1
a
: 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.
3
a
: 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
4
a
: 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
focusless adjective

focus

2 of 2

verb

focused also focussed; focusing also focussing

transitive verb

1
: to cause to be concentrated
focused their attention on the most urgent problems
2
a
: 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
focusable adjective
focuser noun
Phrases
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

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.”

Example Sentences

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.
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
But as the focus has shifted toward the investigation and the process of seeking justice, Nichols’s family has sought to keep his memory alive. Robert Klemko, Washington Post, 28 Jan. 2023 The new Israeli government has already prompted greater focus on whether the two-state solution — the term for a peace deal that would create a Palestinian state alongside Israel — is not just unlikely but impossible. Patrick Kingsley, BostonGlobe.com, 28 Jan. 2023 Afterward, Teri Moren praised her team’s competitiveness, focus and toughness. Zach Osterman, The Indianapolis Star, 28 Jan. 2023 But the Associated Press, citing internal agency documents, said one focus was a two-day visit by Palmeri and his wife in early 2021 to a home in the Florida Keys owned by David Macey, a prominent defense attorney. Mary Beth Sheridan, Anchorage Daily News, 28 Jan. 2023 Throughout the week, the focus remained on the victims and their families. Nicole Fallert, USA TODAY, 28 Jan. 2023 For those in blue states, this growing focus on the Comstock Act should be a wakeup call. Mary Ziegler, CNN, 27 Jan. 2023 The thick geometric temples are ultra-contemporary, drawing the focus. Gaby Keiderling, Harper's BAZAAR, 27 Jan. 2023 But here the focus remains primarily on the cat-and-mouse dynamic between Barhom’s increasingly cynical Adam and always effective character actor Fares’ deceptive intelligence agent. Michael Rechtshaffen, Los Angeles Times, 27 Jan. 2023
Verb
In any trial, defense attorneys could attempt to focus on what the footage doesn’t show, including events that occurred in the run-up to the beating. Corinne Ramey, WSJ, 29 Jan. 2023 This can be done by conducting surveys or focus groups with employees, customers and even competitors. Chris Kille, Forbes, 27 Jan. 2023 Sources say Vernoff wants to focus on her own development after spending two chunks of her career in Shondaland. Lesley Goldberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 27 Jan. 2023 Johnson continues to focus on his goal of reversing the aging process. Valerie Nome, Peoplemag, 27 Jan. 2023 The project — which will focus on low water consumption — will begin at Loma Linda Park at 9 a.m., starting with a kickoff ceremony with the Arizona Cardinals cheerleaders and former Cardinals player Anthony Clement. Alexandra Hardle, The Arizona Republic, 26 Jan. 2023 Mickelson cited a different number, which did not focus on all potential venues clients but instead emphasized high-volume business. Dean Budnick, Variety, 24 Jan. 2023 Under Georgia law, special grand juries are distinct from regular grand juries because the panel can focus extensively on a specific investigation for a longer time. Holly Bailey, Washington Post, 24 Jan. 2023 Miller said COLLiDE Sport is also dedicated to growing the club’s community reinvestment programs, which focus on supporting youth sports, cultural events, and tourism initiatives. Joe Noga, cleveland, 17 Jan. 2023 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

Noun and Verb

New Latin, from Latin, hearth

First Known Use

Noun

1664, in the meaning defined at sense 4a

Verb

1807, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of focus was in 1664

Dictionary Entries Near focus

Cite this Entry

“Focus.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/focus. Accessed 31 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition

focus

1 of 2 noun
fo·​cus ˈfō-kəs How to pronounce focus (audio)
plural foci -ˌsī How to pronounce focus (audio) also focuses
1
: a point at which rays (as of light, heat, or sound) meet or from which they draw apart or appear to draw apart
especially : the point at which an image is formed by a mirror, lens, or optical system
2
b
: adjustment (as of the eye or binoculars) for clear vision
bring into focus
3
: one of the two points within an ellipse the sum of whose distances from any point on the ellipse is a constant number
4
: a center of activity or interest
5
: the starting point of an earthquake

focus

2 of 2 verb
focused also focussed; focusing also focussing
1
a
: to bring into focus
b
: to adjust the focus of
focus a telescope
2
: to cause to be concentrated
focus attention on a problem
3
: to bring to a focus
focus rays of light
4
: to come to a focus
5
: to adjust one's eye or a camera to a certain range

Medical Definition

focus

1 of 2 noun
fo·​cus ˈfō-kəs How to pronounce focus (audio)
plural foci
ˈfō-ˌsī also -ˌkī
also focuses
1
a
: 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)
2
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

2 of 2 verb
focused also focussed; focusing also focussing

transitive verb

1
: to bring (as light rays) to a focus
2
a
: 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
focusable adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on focus

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