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 startup’s focus: helping freelancers and gig-economy workers who don’t have benefits deal with the headaches of taxes, health insurance, and saving for retirement. Scott Kirsner, BostonGlobe.com, "Catch’s founders just wouldn’t take no for an answer," 13 Jan. 2020 New focus on consumer safety The $10.7 billion sale to Broadcom, which included the Symantec name, makes NortonLifeLock a pure-play cybersecurity business focused on serving consumers. Russ Wiles, azcentral, "Cybersecurity company, now based in Tempe, pays special $8 billion dividend," 10 Jan. 2020 While competition might be a focus, the young adults that make up the squad are the docuseries’ main subject. Dallas News, "New Netflix series profiles just how hardcore this Texas school’s cheerleading squad can get," 8 Jan. 2020 Webb isn't the only major telescope that NASA's astrophysics team is building this year; the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope, or WFIRST, is also a key focus of the division's resources, Hertz said. Meghan Bartels, Scientific American, "James Webb Space Telescope on Track for March 2021 Launch, NASA Says," 7 Jan. 2020 The focus on women, it was predicted, would constrain the size of the marches by dissuading men from attending. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, "The Rise of the Permanent Protest," 1 Jan. 2020 With the non-conference portion out of the schedule nearly out of the way, the focus now turns to the conference where the popular question has become how many Big East teams can get into the NCAA Tournament. Adam Baum, Cincinnati.com, "Xavier Musketeers and 2019-20 Big East basketball: 'It's gonna be a war every night.'," 27 Dec. 2019 So a book which begins by acknowledging its narrow focus turns out to be just a tad narrower still. The Economist, "Believe me The narrow path from faith to doubt," 17 Dec. 2019 Jewell, who likely helped prevent many more casualties, was initially hailed as a hero but a few days later was reported to be the focus of the FBI investigation, and the public quickly turned on him. Washington Post, "Newspaper criticizes film’s take on Olympic bombing coverage," 10 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The pilot program joins numerous specialty courts and dockets that are focused on one type of offense or offender in Bexar County. Elizabeth Zavala, ExpressNews.com, "Federal funds sought to help implement new drug court in Bexar County," 30 Dec. 2019 Amazon focused an entire show on a female stand-up comic with The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and turned a one-woman show into an Emmy-winning powerhouse with Fleabag. Angela Watercutter, Wired, "The 19 Best Shows of a Decade That Queered Television," 30 Dec. 2019 The team played with a heavy heart, but was focused from the very beginning. Joseph Goodman | Jgoodman@al.com, al, "Originally built to beat Alabama, LSU is headed to the national championship," 29 Dec. 2019 Attention in Latin America will focus on Venezuela, and how to get economies moving again A BURST OF voting in Latin America saw 15 presidential elections in the two years to November 2019. The Economist, "The World in 2020 (Mis)governing Latin America in 2020," 27 Dec. 2019 Melanie Adams, the Anacostia Community Museum’s new director, focused a panel discussion on how to implement public programs that involve and resonate with visitors. Anna Diamond, Smithsonian Magazine, "Fifty Years Ago, the Idea of a Museum for the People Came of Age," 27 Dec. 2019 News coverage often focuses on the underserved students in rural communities, where extending broadband can be difficult. Rory Taylor, Teen Vogue, "Digital Divide: What It’s Like to Be a Student Without Internet at Home," 27 Dec. 2019 That explanation focuses on what happens during a single bout of exercise, as your body struggles to balance efficiency and power. Alex Hutchinson, Outside Online, "Why a Higher VO2max Isn’t Always Better," 26 Dec. 2019 Miley Cyrus is focusing on self-care heading into the new year. Jasmine Gomez, Seventeen, "Miley Cyrus Posts About “Self-Love” On the Anniversary of Her Wedding to Liam Hemsworth," 24 Dec. 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

16 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Focus.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/focussing. Accessed 20 January 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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