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

But the main focus of the store will be the latest product in the company's portfolio: the RIMOWA Trunk S ($1,540). Caitlin Morton, Condé Nast Traveler, "RIMOWA's New Pop-Up Is One More Reason to Visit Aspen This Winter," 20 Dec. 2018 So, unlike other sitcoms that have tackled surrogacy (see: Friends, Superstore, The New Normal), the focus will be more on the relationship between Kimmy and Stephanie rather than the baby. Jessica Radloff, Glamour, "Fuller House Focuses on Kimmy Gibbler Being Stephanie Tanner's Surrogate This Season," 14 Dec. 2018 The focus was on the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, which borders the Netherlands and Belgium, and Bavaria to the south. Mike Corder, The Seattle Times, "Police arrest 84 in European crackdown on Italian mob," 5 Dec. 2018 Comparisons between the two women were inevitable from the beginning, and many may ask why the focus is so often on the dynamic between Meghan and Kate and not the brothers. Victoria Murphy, Town & Country, "Are Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle Really Feuding?," 3 Dec. 2018 While the focus is on the contestants, many of their arrangements are supported by the music of the band. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "'The Voice' Band's Guitarist Has a Crazy Celebrity Connection That No One Noticed," 25 Nov. 2018 Tools of the Trade Sound baths use repetitive notes at different frequencies to help bring your focus away from your thoughts. Nicole Dellert, Allure, "I Tried a Sound Bath — Here's What This Meditative Practice Is Really Like," 24 Oct. 2018 Having a more focused light fixture near your work surface is going to help mitigate the shadows and allow for better focus on your work and won't strain your eyes. Danielle Tullo, House Beautiful, "This Is How Some Of The World's Most Productive Offices Are Designed," 18 Sep. 2018 His concentration of authority became a focus of concern among some analysts after Mr. Liu’s brief arrest in August and during the subsequent months when accusations against him were pending. Shan Li, WSJ, "JD.com Tries to ‘Change the Narrative’ With Business Restructuring," 27 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Camila’s story focused on Lili’s goofiness in return, featuring clips of her own charades performances. Tess Garcia, Teen Vogue, ""Riverdale" Stars Lili Reinhart, Camila Mendes, and Madelaine Petsch Team Up for Game of Charades," 13 Jan. 2019 The index, which was created in 2012, focuses on financial performance during the first two months of each quarter and measures earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization. Nina Trentmann, WSJ, "Small Private Firms See Surge in Fourth-Quarter Earnings," 11 Jan. 2019 And last night, Abloh focused his attention on the Meatpacking District’s Chrome Hearts store, the location of a Vuitton dinner to celebrate the New York Residency of the Louis Vuitton Menswear Spring/Summer 2019 collection. Lilah Ramzi, Vogue, "Bella Hadid, Karlie Kloss, and Joan Smalls Suited Up in Louis Vuitton Menswear for the Virgil Abloh and Chrome Hearts Dinner," 10 Jan. 2019 So today, a lot of the innovation that is taking place in the recycling industry must dually focus on the economics. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Bikes, bowling balls, and the delicate balancing act that is modern recycling," 31 Dec. 2018 In 2018, her most interesting work (to my mind) focused on the platforms’ algorithms — how social media’s tool for personally tailoring content to individual users has bred political extremism. Zack Beauchamp, Vox, "The 9 thinkers who made sense of 2018’s chaos," 27 Dec. 2018 Now, the company is focusing on building out its educational ecosystem with a particular interest in getting more products into schools, another built-in market with an expendable budget. Ashley Carman, The Verge, "Sphero discontinues its BB-8, R2-D2, and other licensed Disney products," 17 Dec. 2018 Each book focuses on a different room inside a modern house: the living room, bathroom, kitchen, garage, and bedroom. Megan Barber, Curbed, "The 17 best kids’ books about design and cities," 12 Dec. 2018 The filing also focused on the retired Army lieutenant general’s three decades in the military, including five years in combat. Chad Day, The Seattle Times, "Flynn’s lawyers say his lie to FBI ‘uncharacteristic’," 12 Dec. 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 and Verb

New Latin, from Latin, hearth

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Statistics for focus

Last Updated

16 Jan 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

: 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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