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

As a new parent, your focus will of course fall singularly on your baby. Karla Walsh, Woman's Day, "The Best Breastfeeding Diet," 25 Feb. 2019 Keep the focus on the food with a classic aesthetic and opt for traditional BODBYN cabinets in a warm grey. Jessica Dailey, Good Housekeeping, "Your Style," 11 Feb. 2019 Just be sure to keep your jewels delicate to keep the focus on your statement dress. Roxanne Adamiyatt, Town & Country, "5 Chic Outfits that Take the Stress Out of Valentine's Day Dressing," 30 Jan. 2019 But the writers need to keep that focus on the right place, spending more time letting the audience fall in love with the titular Runaways and their relationships with each other. Samantha Nelson, The Verge, "Season 2 of Runaways forges a bold new path — eventually," 21 Dec. 2018 Trump’s public criticism of the Fed puts more focus on the central bank and opens it up to accusations of politicization. Emily Stewart, Vox, "Trump makes last-ditch effort to pressure the Fed ahead of interest rate meeting," 18 Dec. 2018 In one fell swoop, this report squashes any inclination that Markle and Middleton aren't friendly and puts the focus solely on Prince William and Prince Harry. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Breaking Down All the Rumors About Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton's Royal 'Feud'," 27 Nov. 2018 Ecuador and Peru Tom DamonSouthwind AdventuresHis focus is active travel with guides like the grandson of one of the Peruvians who took Hiram Bingham to Machu Picchu. Paul Brady, Condé Nast Traveler, "2018 Top Travel Specialists We Trust," 19 Oct. 2018 The same goes for the old practice of tap-to-focus. Alexander George, Popular Mechanics, "How to Take Better Phone Photos," 25 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In addition to focusing on the keeping-cold issue, the company upgraded its caps with a new honeycomb insulation pattern and steel lugs for strength. Tim Newcomb, Popular Mechanics, "Why Are Hydro Flask Bottles Suddenly Everywhere?," 23 Feb. 2019 Rent the Runway focuses on sustainability in other ways too. Erin Quinn-kong, Woman's Day, "Are Your Fast-Fashion Clothes Killing Farmers?," 14 Feb. 2019 But what about movies that have an element of both, but aren’t focused on either? Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "So, What Exactly Is a Rom-Com Actually?," 13 Feb. 2019 In her nearly 30 year career, Ricci has certainly mastered the art of evolving and focusing on the positive. Jessica Radloff, Glamour, "Christina Ricci Is Glad Social Media Didn't Exist When She Was a Young Star," 19 Jan. 2019 Traditional brands have also been under pressure from retailers like Walmart Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. to keep prices low, pushing the manufacturers to focus on lowering costs in their supply chains or paring back advertising. Aisha Al-muslim, WSJ, "Prepare to Pay More for Diapers, Clorox and Cat Litter," 11 Feb. 2019 At this stage of her life Diane wants to spread her message to women through a variety of outlets—podcasts, a YouTube channel, more books—and to focus on philanthropy. Alex Kuczynski, Town & Country, "Diane and Talita von Furstenberg Turn an American Empire into a Family Dynasty," 7 Feb. 2019 Architect Warren Planter believed that an architects job was not to focus on personal expression, like a painter or sculptor, but rather served to express the needs of others. Carisha Swanson, House Beautiful, "The Platner Arm Chair Will Add Instant Mid-Century Sophistication to Your Home," 1 Feb. 2019 The movie seems to focus on their relationship, which occurred while Ted was committing multiple murders without her knowledge. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Everything to Know About Zac Efron's New Ted Bundy Movie "Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile"," 29 Jan. 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

13 Mar 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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