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 Then-Governor Scott’s focus was on supporting job creation in low-income areas in the state, based on federal requirements and what would offer the best return on taxpayer dollars. Justin Elliott, ProPublica, "A Trump Tax Break To Help The Poor Went To a Rich GOP Donor’s Superyacht Marina," 18 Nov. 2019 Congressional focus has intensified on the episode at the Kyiv restaurant called SHO, in which Sondland pulled out his mobile phone and dialed up Trump. Washington Post, "Sondland discussed sensitive matters with Trump on phone from Kyiv restaurant as waiters circled," 17 Nov. 2019 Meridiana also will soon bring its education focus full circle as construction continues on a new onsite junior high school, opening fall 2021, with an adjacent high school, opening fall 2022. Houston Chronicle, "Luxury townhomes by Lennar coming to Meridiana," 16 Nov. 2019 There’s a heightened focus this year on when the school year is set to begin. Talia Richman, baltimoresun.com, "Before or after Labor Day? Maryland school boards split on when classes will begin next year.," 16 Nov. 2019 Winning a rivalry game like this one relies on an unwavering focus on ringing that bell. Ryan Gregory, Indianapolis Star, "Last-minute DePauw touchdown pass the latest chapter added to thrilling Monon Bell rivalry," 16 Nov. 2019 Frozen 2 centers on the origins of Elsa’s powers, making Menzel’s role a much larger focus compared with the first film. Gab Ginsberg, Billboard, "With 'Frozen 2,' Idina Menzel Returns To The Franchise That Began Her Hot Streak," 15 Nov. 2019 When Celine Dion's husband and one-time manager, Rene Angelil, passed away in 2016, the powerhouse Canadian vocalist, chart-topper, couture fashion icon, Las Vegas mainstay and soon-to-be biopic focus lost her mooring, the center of her gravity. A.d. Amorosi, chicagotribune.com, "Album Review: Celine Dion’s ‘Courage’," 15 Nov. 2019 The goal is to emerge from the fast with a clearer mind and a sharper focus. Claire Gillespie, Health.com, "'Dopamine Fasting' Is Supposed to Help You Think Clearer and Have More Focus. Here's What to Know," 14 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Khalilzad was leading informal discussions focused on identifying confidence-building measures such as the prisoner swap that would be used to bring the United States and the Taliban back to the negotiating table. BostonGlobe.com, "KABUL — A planned prisoner swap between the Afghan government and the Taliban intended to restart peace talks between the insurgent group and the United States has been delayed, according to Afghan and Taliban officials.," 18 Nov. 2019 Despite the ongoing Lori drama, other Fuller House cast members are, like John, focusing on the series coming to an end. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "John Stamos Posts Heartbreaking Instagram About 'Fuller House' Ending Featuring Lori Loughlin," 18 Nov. 2019 Last week, our Valley 101 podcast explored Arizona's five Cs, focusing on citrus and its decline. Katie O'connell, azcentral, "Why is cotton one of Arizona's 5 Cs? Valley 101 uncovers the history of the cash crop," 18 Nov. 2019 The American Jewish Committee co-sponsored a recent discussion with Florida International University’s Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs focused on the state of democracy and tolerance in Central and Eastern Europe. Sergio Carmona, sun-sentinel.com, "American Jewish Committee, FIU sponsor discussion with international experts," 15 Nov. 2019 Maybe that’s hard to avoid in a film focused on a world inhabited mostly by men, especially one that puts the odd-couple friendship between Miles and Shelby at its center. Wired, "Ford v Ferrari Overlooks the Best Part of the Racing Rivalry," 15 Nov. 2019 But the former governor faces significant hurdles to raise enormous amounts of money quickly and to build an organization in the traditional early voting states that most of his rivals have focused on for the past year. Steve Peoples, The Denver Post, "Ex-Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick announces Democratic presidential bid," 14 Nov. 2019 An Enquirer analysis, focused on finances of 10 of the area’s largest nonprofits that deal with poverty, shows there are headwinds against such agencies helping the poor. James Pilcher, Cincinnati.com, "Region's nonprofits spend $500,000,000+ a year to fight poverty. Is it helping?," 13 Nov. 2019 With the 2019 CMA Awards focusing on female empowerment, one of the show's three superstar co-hosts got to perform an especially fitting hit song. Chris Payne, Billboard, "Reba McEntire Delivers Show-Stopping 'Fancy' Performance at the 2019 CMA Awards," 13 Nov. 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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Time Traveler for focus

Time Traveler

The first known use of focus was in 1664

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Statistics for focus

Last Updated

20 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Focus.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/focusses. Accessed 22 November 2019.

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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

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