focus

noun
fo·​cus | \ ˈfō-kəs How to pronounce focus (audio) \
plural foci\ ˈfō-​ˌsī How to pronounce focus (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 focus (audio) \ adjective

Verb

focusable \ ˈfō-​kə-​sə-​bəl How to pronounce focus (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 It is geared toward non-tech entrepreneurs and businesses, with a focus on minorities and women. Robin Goist, cleveland, "Akron launches second round of ‘Rubber City Match’ program to support small businesses, fill storefronts," 3 May 2021 Along with a focus on climate-smart technology, the plan calls for a $16 billion investment to plug countless defunct oil and gas wells and reclaim abandoned coal, hardrock, and uranium mines. Alexis Benveniste, CNN, "Biden's climate push promises 'jobs, jobs, jobs.' Here's what that might look like," 2 May 2021 Also part of Epic’s legal team is Mr. Bornstein, co-head of Cravath’s litigation department, with a focus on antitrust, merger and acquisition and securities litigation. WSJ, "Epic vs. Apple Trial: Tim Cook, Tim Sweeney and the Other Key Players in ‘Fortnite’ Maker’s Antitrust Lawsuit," 2 May 2021 Cardone said Marcina’s points of emphasis are similar to last season, with a focus on intensity, aggression and pressing with and without the ball. Greg Luca, San Antonio Express-News, "San Antonio FC opens new season with focus on identity," 30 Apr. 2021 The Godoys’ niche is a growing one: indie comics by Black artists, written for Black families about Black people, with a focus on tales of Africa before slavery. Los Angeles Times, "Yes, lots of comics were racist. A new generation of Black artists is reinventing them," 29 Apr. 2021 Stop by the Grand Rapids Art Museum, situated in an impressive modern building, where collections range from Renaissance to modern art, with a special focus on 19th and 20th century European and American art. Jean Chen Smith, The Enquirer, "Want to avoid Brood X? Cicada-free vacation spots within 5 hours of Cincinnati," 29 Apr. 2021 Our sports reporter Norma Gonzalez brings you an insider’s look every Thursday about Brigham Young University athletics, with a focus on football and basketball. Norma Gonzalez, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Eye on the Y: Lives will change tonight, especially Zach Wilson’s," 29 Apr. 2021 People are already using the CRISPR platform for research efforts to create products with a focus on sustainability and lowering the impact of climate change. John Cumbers, Forbes, "The World's First Fully Automated Benchtop Digital Genome Engineering Platform Is Here," 28 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Other highlights will include the parade, dozens of vendor booths, which will focus on health and social justice; and Black pride items such as shirts, flags and jewelry. James E. Causey, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee's Juneteenth Day celebration is back. It will resume in person this year.," 4 May 2021 The heritage facility, which produces blanco, reposado and añejo small batch tequilas, is led by a group of longtime distillers who focus on quality as well as sustainability. Rania Aniftos, Billboard, "Here Are 8 Musician-Backed Tequila Brands for Cinco de Mayo," 4 May 2021 Meet with lenders who focus on supporting small businesses. Robin Goist, cleveland, "Akron launches second round of ‘Rubber City Match’ program to support small businesses, fill storefronts," 3 May 2021 The month and date change to focus on key moments in those three different summers. Selena Barrientos, Good Housekeeping, "Is 'Cruel Summer' Based on a True Story? What Fans Need to Know Before Watching More Episodes," 1 May 2021 Typically, only about 12% of these bills become law, the NCSL estimates, and many that do focus on small issues that don’t make national headlines. Alexa Corse, WSJ, "States’ New Voting Laws: What You Need to Know," 30 Apr. 2021 Meanwhile, Collin College’s board will need to focus on keeping students on track during the disruptive pandemic, which has caused many to delay their degree plans. Valeria Olivares, Dallas News, "Collin College candidates address concerns of free speech, retaliation," 30 Apr. 2021 The University of Texas San Antonio is preparing to form a committee to focus on the success of the institution’s Hispanic and Latino students. Danya Perez, San Antonio Express-News, "'Not only being excellent' - UTSA is assembling a team to guide how it serves Hispanics," 30 Apr. 2021 His view is that business leaders – no matter what the size of their organisations – need to focus on 10 teachings gleaned from the pandemic: Create a common mission. David Prosser, Forbes, "Ten Ways For Businesses To Prosper In The Roaring Twenties," 28 Apr. 2021

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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Learn More about focus

Statistics for focus

Last Updated

6 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Focus.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/focus. Accessed 15 May. 2021.

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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 focus (audio) \ adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on focus

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for focus

Nglish: Translation of focus for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of focus for Arabic Speakers

Comments on focus

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