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 At times, the mayor’s focus has seemed to be elsewhere. The Economist, "How’s he doin’? New Yorkers turn their backs on Bill de Blasio," 20 June 2020 Economics—a discipline whose core focus is exploring who gets what, where, when, and why—is of great interest to Black people, who too often find themselves on the wrong side of America’s divides in wealth and income. Fanta Traore, Fortune, "19 Black economists to celebrate and know, this Juneteenth and beyond," 19 June 2020 Chief Justice John Roberts was the swing vote in the 5-4 decision, which dealt a big legal defeat to President Donald Trump on the issue of immigration, a major focus of his domestic agenda. NBC News, "U.S. marks Juneteenth, Dreamers celebrate Supreme Court decision and Trump's Tulsa rally," 18 June 2020 The North Face introduced an entirely new line of packs last year, updating what had been somewhat stale designs with a heavier focus on simplicity and a lightweight nature. Matt Jancer, Wired, "20 Last-Minute Father's Day Gifts on Sale Now," 18 June 2020 There was also pressure to make your research area relevant to the coronavirus, with research funding and focus being diverted to Covid-19. Katie Hunt, CNN, "How female scientists are losing out during the pandemic and why it matters," 18 June 2020 The Supreme Court's decision Thursday to block President Donald Trump's plans to end protections for those brought illegally to the U.S. as children could help put a new and uncertain focus in Arizona on the old issue of immigration reform. Ronald J. Hansen, azcentral, "How the Supreme Court's DACA ruling could affect races for president, Congress in Arizona," 18 June 2020 Another source familiar with what happened told CBS News that Wednesday's purge was demoralizing considering that the agency networks' focus is to tell the stories that aren't being told by authoritarian regimes. Margaret Brennan, CBS News, "Trump administration purges news execs from U.S. agency meant to counter disinformation, leaving staff fearing more to come," 18 June 2020 Our focus areas are prevention of the infection, curing of patients and at the same time boosting economic activity. Billy Perrigo, Time, "India's Coronavirus Death Toll Is Surging. Prime Minister Modi Is Easing Lockdown Anyway," 18 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Previous ones provoked the departure last year of JAB Holding’s chairman, Bart Becht, who reportedly quit after failing to convince the other partners to scale back expansion and focus instead on running the companies under their wings better. The Economist, "The Reimann hypothesis A peek inside JAB Holding," 20 June 2020 This is something that can be achieved if businesses focus less on the bottom line, according to marketing experts David Meerman Scott and Dan Oshinsky. Radhika Marya, Fortune, "Marketing strategies during the pandemic should be focused on building relationships," 19 June 2020 Initiatives like the recent decision by the Small Business Administration and U.S. Treasury to allocate US$10 billion to lenders that focus funds on disadvantaged areas are a start. Gregory B. Fairchild, The Conversation, "From grandfather to grandson, the lessons of the Tulsa race massacre," 19 June 2020 Over the next several weeks, The Enquirer will highlight a series of cold cases, summarized and analyzed by the journalists whose careers largely focus on unsolved murders: the creators of Cincinnati.com's Accused podcast. Amber Hunt, Cincinnati.com, "Backstory: Anita Taylor was beaten, left for dead. Her son seeks answers 54 years later.," 18 June 2020 The other new positions include but are not limited to writers who focus on how race intersects with national security, criminal justice, style, climate and the environment, health, and science. Mike Brest, Washington Examiner, "Washington Post and New York Times announce plans to diversify newsrooms," 18 June 2020 The department would be made up of social workers and other civilian professionals who would focus on violence prevention, mental health and homelessness, for example. CBS News, "Proposal would use social workers, not LAPD, for some calls," 17 June 2020 Her producers had pitched a series to the Food Network that would focus on Brown, her family, and her life in Charleston. Priya Krishna, Southern Living, "Kardea Brown Honors Gullah Cuisine and Her Family’s Traditions," 17 June 2020 According to Deadline, the film will not wade into Princess Diana’s death in 1997 but will focus more on her relationship with Prince Charles and her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry. Emily Tannenbaum, Glamour, "Kristen Stewart Will Play Princess Diana in a New Movie—And Honestly, That’s Perfect," 17 June 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

22 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Focus.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/focus. Accessed 3 Jul. 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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More from Merriam-Webster on focus

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for focus

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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