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

For jewelry spies however, the focus of the evening was less on the colorful Lagerfeld backdrops and more on the triple strand of Van Cleef & Arpels cultured pearls worn by Princess Caroline. Stellene Volandes, Town & Country, "Princess Caroline Wore Her Mother Grace Kelly's Pearls for the First Time Since Her Death," 1 Apr. 2019 The focus on disclosures to regulators, which hasn’t been previously reported, is part of a broader investigation into how the jetliner was developed and certified, some of these people said. Aruna Viswanatha, WSJ, "Prosecutors in 737 MAX Probe Focus on Boeing Disclosures to Regulators, Customers," 22 Mar. 2019 That is, when the focus is solely on reducing gun deaths in schools—not churches, not synagogues, not concerts, not movie theaters. Rachel Epstein, Marie Claire, "8 Parkland Teachers on What They Really Think About Being Armed," 13 Feb. 2019 But the idea of fetal pain, which seems to be the focus of that statement, is one that continues to come up. Sarah Jacoby, SELF, "What President Trump Got Wrong About Abortion in His State of the Union Address," 6 Feb. 2019 While the focus was firmly on Meghan's exciting new role within the royal family, it's also being reported that Kate Middleton and Prince William had a private engagement of their own to attend. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kate Middleton and Prince William Held a Secret Meeting with the Royal Foundation," 12 Jan. 2019 Light axions looking for enlightenment The version of dark matter that is the focus of this work is a hypothetical subatomic particle known as the axion. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Pulsars could convert dark matter into something we could see," 20 Dec. 2018 The main focus is to see whether Moon can set up talks between Pyongyang and Washington to salvage stalled nuclear diplomacy. Fox News, "The Latest: Kim says summit with Trump stabilized region," 18 Sep. 2018 Dame Products' focus is on couples' toys that even out the playing field between penises and vaginas. Suzannah Weiss, Glamour, "6 Women-Led Sex Start-ups That Want to Change How You Think About Pleasure," 22 Mar. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

As teased in the cover's blurb, the angle around his interview with The Observer focuses on Shawn's global success and how he's skyrocketed to becoming one of the biggest pop stars in 2019. Allie Gemmill, Teen Vogue, "Justin Bieber Jokingly Challenged Shawn Mendes on His "Prince of Pop" Title," 8 Apr. 2019 The season 5 trailer focuses on the growing tension between the couple, leading viewers to fear that there may even be a divorce in the near future. Amanda Garrity, Good Housekeeping, "Are Amber and Trent From '7 Little Johnstons' Getting Divorced? The Truth Behind Those Rumors," 2 Apr. 2019 In North Dakota, Richards and Alvarez focused on the preservation of the fish in the graveyard. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "The Annihilation Event That Killed The Dinosaurs Left This Diverse Graveyard Trapped in Time," 1 Apr. 2019 With the sun in Taurus, focus on your health in a more holistic way. Randon Rosenbohm, Allure, "What April's Sagittarius Horoscope Means for You," 31 Mar. 2019 Aoun, who arrived in Moscow on Monday, focused on efforts to encourage the return of Syrian refugees. Vladimir Isachenkov, The Seattle Times, "Lebanon president criticizes Trump decision on Golan Heights," 26 Mar. 2019 Besides her amazing fashion sense, the magazine also focused on Erin’s guide to Vancouver, where many of the network's Christmas movies are filmed. Megan Stein, Country Living, "'When Calls the Heart' Star Erin Krakow Shares Sultry Pictures from New Photoshoot," 24 Mar. 2019 Haight focuses on clean lines and the creation of shapes through plunging necklines and deep side cutouts. Marina Liao, Marie Claire, "The Best New Swimwear of Summer 2019," 21 Mar. 2019 And the University of California, Los Angeles, has focused on Usher syndrome 1B caused by a mutation in MYO7A. Caren Chesler, Popular Mechanics, "A Vision Quest," 6 Mar. 2019

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

10 Apr 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
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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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

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