em·​pha·​sis | \ ˈem(p)-fə-səs How to pronounce emphasis (audio) \
plural emphases\ ˈem(p)-​fə-​ˌsēz How to pronounce emphasis (audio) \

Definition of emphasis

1a : force or intensity of expression that gives impressiveness or importance to something
b : a particular prominence given in reading or speaking to one or more words or syllables
2 : special consideration of or stress or insistence on something

Synonyms & Antonyms for emphasis



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Examples of emphasis in a Sentence

Our candidate's plan has a different emphasis. a prep school with a long-established emphasis on sports
Recent Examples on the Web Under Cohen's leadership, the intelligence office has been trying to revamp its stature, putting more emphasis on analyzing online threats of violence and working to revive its state and local partner relationships. Priscilla Alvarez, CNN, 1 Apr. 2022 The intention is clear: Auburn is putting an emphasis on forcing more turnovers this fall under new defensive coordinator Jeff Schmedding. Tom Green | Tgreen@al.com, al, 24 Mar. 2022 Barnes Arico said the team has used the time to strengthen weaknesses, especially end-of-game play, securing the basketball and putting an emphasis on transition defense. Julie Walker, Detroit Free Press, 14 Mar. 2022 Hillsong stood out by putting an emphasis on music as a part of worship. Kate Aurthur, Variety, 16 Feb. 2022 Disney—like all media giants—is putting greater emphasis on streaming to better compete against Netflix Inc. and others. Joe Flint, WSJ, 19 June 2022 Valdez hurdler Dillon Fowler took the 110 title for DII, putting the emphasis on competing on the runner in the next lane and not clearing the hurdles. Chris Bieri, Anchorage Daily News, 29 May 2022 The state is putting more emphasis on allowing local emergency officials to drive storm responses --- based upon coordinated information between the state and National Hurricane Center. Jim Turner, Sun Sentinel, 23 May 2022 The state is putting more emphasis on allowing local emergency officials to drive storm responses --- based upon coordinated information between the state and National Hurricane Center. Jim Turner, Orlando Sentinel, 23 May 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'emphasis.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of emphasis

1534, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

History and Etymology for emphasis

borrowed from Latin, "use of language to imply more than is actually said, implication" (Late Latin also "appearance," Medieval Latin "prominence of expression, stress"), borrowed from Greek émphasis "appearance in a smooth surface, reflection, outward appearance, setting forth, exposition, significance, force of expression," from empha-, stem in noun derivation of emphaínein "to exhibit, display, indicate," emphaínesthai "to be reflected, become visible" (from em- en- entry 2 + phaínein "to bring to light, cause to appear," and phaínesthai "to become visible, appear") + -sis -sis — more at fantasy entry 1, phase entry 1

Note: Greek pha- can be a stem in nominal derivation of both phaínein and the verb phēmí, phánai "to speak, say," so that prefixed words formed with it may have senses relating to both appearance and to speech or language, as is the case with émphasis. For the underlying relation between the two verbs see the note at ban entry 1.

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The first known use of emphasis was in 1534

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Last Updated

24 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Emphasis.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/emphasis. Accessed 25 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for emphasis


em·​pha·​sis | \ ˈem-fə-səs How to pronounce emphasis (audio) \
plural emphases\ -​ˌsēz \

Kids Definition of emphasis

1 : a forcefulness in the way something is said or written that gives it special attention or importance
2 : special force given to one or more words or syllables in speaking or reading In the word "vacation," the emphasis is on the second syllable.
3 : special attention or importance given to something

More from Merriam-Webster on emphasis

Nglish: Translation of emphasis for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of emphasis for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about emphasis


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