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

My focus has always been creating a safe space for marginalized people. Peter Ash Lee, Vogue, "The Sisters of Lady Fancy Nails Want Their New Cuticle Oil to Serve as Stress Relief," 17 May 2019 The focus was rigidity and weight reduction with the goal of improving cornering performance. Annie White, Car and Driver, "The 2020 Mini JCW Countryman and Clubman Get More Power," 14 May 2019 Instead, Day turned her focus to the Doris Day Animal Foundation, which advocates for animal rights. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "10 Iconic Doris Day Photos That Will Take Your Breath Away," 13 May 2019 As the biggest fast-food chains have expanded menus to attract new customers, Chick-fil-A Inc. has gained ground with a different strategy: its focus on chicken sandwiches. Micah Maidenberg, WSJ, "Chick-fil-A’s Lean Menu Helps Chain Bulk Up," 8 May 2019 My focus has been on the show, so dating has not been one of my first priorities. Harper's BAZAAR, "Jennifer Aniston: The Naked Truth," 6 May 2019 At the end of the day, that is not my primary focus. Eric Olson, The Seattle Times, "Huskers’ Martinez eyes encore to fantastic freshman campaign," 13 Apr. 2019 Their focus was on each other as the race rose to its climax. Jonathan Schifman, Popular Mechanics, "A Friendship Turned to Rivalry. A Feud That Changed the New York Skyline.," 27 Mar. 2019 While the birth will be reported all over the world, the focus for the event is the picturesque Berkshire town of Windsor. Victoria Murphy, Town & Country, "Royal Baby Watch: Windsor—and the World—Holds Its Breath," 4 May 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Ralph Lauren wrote the introduction, while the final chapter was written by Bentley's chairman and CEO and focuses on the future of the brand. Daniel Golson, Car and Driver, "Bentley's Coffee-Table Book Costs Over $250,000 and Is Covered in Diamonds," 17 May 2019 And neither team wants to focus on the inconsistencies that have gnawed at Celtics coach Brad Stevens and Pacers coach Nate McMillan throughout the season. Kyle Hightower, The Seattle Times, "Pacers, Celtics enter playoff matchup looking for redemption," 13 Apr. 2019 The permits might also attract hikers who ignore the warnings about difficulty, focused more of the exclusivity of the hike. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Despite Increased Safety, People Keep Getting Hurt at Yosemite's Half Dome," 3 May 2019 At that time, Nate had just wrapped up filming The Nate Berkus Show, which ran from 2010 to 2012, and was focusing more on his design firm. They were engaged a year later—in Peru. Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, "A Brief Timeline of Nate Berkus & Jeremiah Brent's Relationship," 3 May 2019 The index has hovered near its highest levels since November as investors have focused on signs of slowing growth in Europe. Daniel Kruger, WSJ, "U.S. Dollar Strengthens After Powell Suggests Soft Inflation Is Transitory," 1 May 2019 The last touch, sadly, is what people will focus on: the Chroma RGB support. Gordon Mah Ung, PCWorld, "Razer's Core X Chroma eGPU cabinet features RGB and Intel's latest Thunderbolt 3 controller," 16 Apr. 2019 Iger has said Hulu will continue to offer general entertainment programming while Disney Plus will be focused on family fare. Michael Liedtke, The Seattle Times, "Disney unveils new streaming service to debut late this year," 14 Apr. 2019 With patience, practice, and focus on good form, this move can build up your core strength over time. Jenny Mccoy, SELF, "Work Your Entire Core With This Stability Ball Exercise From Celebrity Trainer Astrid Swan," 10 Apr. 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

22 May 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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