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

The other, the focus here, is the hybrid UX 250h, which comes with all-wheel drive. Frank A. Aukofer, Houston Chronicle, "2019 LEXUS UX 250h: Luxury hybrid comes with all-wheel drive," 14 July 2019 The 2018 Red Sox were a marvel of preparation and focus, a team that moved with a constant sense of purpose toward the first pitch and whose attention to detail lasted through the ninth. Alex Speier, BostonGlobe.com, "All that travel was a prominent player in Red Sox’ ‘stop and go’ start," 12 July 2019 This problem is a focus of Wolf’s reform, by bringing Pennsylvania licensing into line with surrounding states. James P. Sutton, National Review, "Licensing Reform Makes Inroads in Pennsylvania," 10 July 2019 Nothing could shake their focus, not even the worldwide attention and scrutiny that spun around the team all tournament. Alicia Delgallo, Pro Soccer USA, "USWNT wins 4th World Cup title, takes down Netherlands 2-0," 8 July 2019 But the cost-cutting focuses on the units that sell stocks and bonds, which are primarily in New York and London. Jack Ewing, New York Times, "Deutsche Bank Scales Back Ambitions, Announcing Job Cuts and Reorganization," 7 July 2019 My focus, and that of the Bureau and the entire Department is to conduct a complete and accurate census. Mark Sherman, The Mercury News, "Trump says he is ‘absolutely moving forward’ with census question," 3 July 2019 Some of this scrutiny has focused on the company's marketing, which has been the focus of lawsuits and other investigations into whether Juul deliberately targeted teens. Michael Nedelman And Arman Azad, CNN, "#Juul: Study makes the case for stricter regulation on e-cigarette marketing," 3 July 2019 My focus, and that of the Bureau and the entire Department is to conduct a complete and accurate census. Mark Sherman, The Denver Post, "2020 Census to be printed without citizenship question," 2 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

By 1997, Sadelain’s team had come to focus on a molecule called CD19, which is present in certain blood cancers, including many kinds of lymphomas and leukemias, in which a class of white blood cells—B cells—proliferate in a malignant form. Siddhartha Mukherjee, The New Yorker, "The Promise and Price of Cellular Therapies," 15 July 2019 Her models pose with their eyes closed, as if to block out one sense in order to focus more on another. Steven Litt, cleveland.com, "Transformer Station’s “I Sing the Body’’ surveys photographic interpretation of the human form," 14 July 2019 Porter said Scribner really focused on the needs of the community to determine the perfect match for Glastonbury. Peter Marteka, courant.com, "New officer Soleil joins the Glastonbury police force," 12 July 2019 Skinner emphasizes matches can’t be won by outscoring an opponent, and his next goal is to focus on clean sheets. Julia Poe, Pro Soccer USA, "Striker Chioma Ubogagu helps Orlando Pride to break out of scoring slump," 12 July 2019 Our involvement is one focused only on manufacturing of the DPS6, not the design. Freep.com, "FREE PRESS INVESTIGATION: OUT OF GEAR Ford knew Focus, Fiesta models had flawed transmission, sold them anyway," 11 July 2019 The grievances likely to be discussed tomorrow will likely focus on temporary suspensions, some accidental; not appearing high enough in search results, or at all; and not being included in various algorithmic recommendations. Casey Newton, The Verge, "The White House’s social media summit has an ulterior motive," 11 July 2019 Until recently, its the institute's research focused on increasing yield or reducing cost; biodiversity wasn't really on their radar. Dyna Rochmyaningsih, Science | AAAS, "Courting controversy, scientists team with industry to tackle one of the world’s most destructive crops," 11 July 2019 And unlike the study’s careful authors, Catron fails to clarify that this study focused on immediate social ties, rather than on more formal forms of integration into civic life and other social institutions. Alan J. Hawkins, National Review, "What You Lose When You Diss the Public Good of Marriage," 10 July 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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Statistics for focus

Last Updated

17 Jul 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

Comments on focus

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appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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