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 Part of the reason for that is their focus on defense. Tania Ganguli Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Newsletter: It’s back to the reality of life outside the NBA bubble," 11 Sep. 2020 While Swift skipped the extended rollout prior to the album's release with Folklore, she's taken a page from many of the most successful artists in 2020 and shifted her focus to keeping the set's momentum going after its release. Andrew Unterberger, Billboard, "Taylor Swift's Surprise Set 'Folklore' Had 2020's Biggest Debut -- Here's How It's Still on Top Five Weeks Later," 11 Sep. 2020 Montgomery avoided a worst-case scenario and quickly shifted his focus toward attacking the recovery process. Dan Wiederer, chicagotribune.com, "‘I thought I tore something’: Bears running back David Montgomery is taking the cautious route in his recovery from a scary groin injury," 10 Sep. 2020 Tim Murtaugh, communications director for the Trump campaign, made clear that Biden, not Harris, would remain their main focus. Kathleen Ronayne And Jonathan Lemire, Star Tribune, "Trump, struggling to define Biden, steps up Harris attacks," 10 Sep. 2020 Since then, his focus has shifted to Meals for Musicians. Keith Spera, NOLA.com, "Howlin' Wolf reborn as food distribution hub to help musicians and other 'culture bearers'," 10 Sep. 2020 Deichler said the group will keep its focus on contemporary music, and preparing students for a variety of careers will remain a top priority. Zachary Lewis, cleveland, "Contemporary Youth Orchestra enters new era as founder Liza Grossman departs," 10 Sep. 2020 Semenya plans to shift her focus to the 200 meter race, a competition where the requirement does not apply. Emma Hinchliffe, Fortune, "Nearly half of open board seats went to women in 2019. Only 23% were filled by people of color," 10 Sep. 2020 More recently, Todaro has shifted his focus to the idea that the immune system's response to the common cold could play a role in herd immunity. Cristina Alesci And Casey Tolan, CNN, "Coronavirus misinformation is winding up in Wall Street research. Here's why that matters," 9 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The Vermont independent thinks Biden should focus more on pocketbook issues such as health care and his plans for the economy, and campaign more with popular liberal figures like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. Anna Edney, Bloomberg.com, "Bernie Sanders Said to Have Concerns on State of Biden Campaign," 12 Sep. 2020 That's because many of them focus not on exposure to the virus but other matters, such as retaliation, leaves of absence or discrimination. Robert Kuznia, CNN, "Lawsuits reveal just how fraught the workplace has become in the age of Covid-19," 11 Sep. 2020 Stefanski calling the plays will also give Van Pelt time to focus on Mayfield during the game without the burden of playcalling on his mind. Mary Kay Cabot, cleveland, "Why Browns coach Kevin Stefanski made the right decision to call his own plays," 11 Sep. 2020 Automating mundane and repetitive tasks, such as suturing, could allow surgeons to focus on more critical and complex parts of operations and minimize the mental and physical fatigue associated with hourslong procedures. Sara Castellanos, WSJ, "Autonomous Robots Are Coming to the Operating Room," 11 Sep. 2020 The organization has therefore identified even higher-risk subgroups, recommending providers focus those most likely to be in settings where COVID-19 is circulating and those most likely to infect others. Stephanie Innes, The Arizona Republic, "How will Arizona distribute a COVID-19 vaccine? Answers and challenges start to emerge," 10 Sep. 2020 At the same time, to focus solely on far-right extremism is to ignore the extraordinary lethality of Islamist extremist attacks. Jeff Gruenewald, The Conversation, "19 years after 9/11, Americans continue to fear foreign extremists and underplay the dangers of domestic terrorism," 10 Sep. 2020 In May, there was a big announcement of the new infrastructure initiative, which is designed to focus on 5G and mobile edge computing to encourage domestic companies to take part in that. Veta Chan, Fortune, "‘A real uphill battle:’ Why China will struggle to counter U.S.’s attack on Huawei," 10 Sep. 2020 This is the first federal government report of its kind to focus on the effects of climate change on financial markets. Paul Douglas, Star Tribune, "From Frost to 80 Degrees in 4 Days - Unprecedented Wildfires Rage Across Western USA," 10 Sep. 2020

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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Time Traveler for focus

Time Traveler

The first known use of focus was in 1664

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Statistics for focus

Last Updated

14 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Focus.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/focus. Accessed 20 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for focus

focus

noun
How to pronounce focus (audio)

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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Comments on focus

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