emphasis

noun

em·​pha·​sis ˈem(p)-fə-səs How to pronounce emphasis (audio)
plural emphases ˈem(p)-fə-ˌsēz How to pronounce emphasis (audio)
1
a
: 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

Example Sentences

Our candidate's plan has a different emphasis. a prep school with a long-established emphasis on sports
Recent Examples on the Web How to beat him Though his constant emphasis on his willingness to do so, running is not his forte. Stephen Means, cleveland, 25 Nov. 2022 Koch has emerged as one of the biggest investors in batteries, a turnabout from its emphasis on fossil fuels. Stephen Wilmot, WSJ, 11 Nov. 2022 In a similar vein, his emphasis on quickly pushing out new features illustrates an ambition and willingness to fail that had been sorely lacking at Twitter, which earned a reputation for aimlessness and timidity. Jacob Carpenter, Fortune, 2 Nov. 2022 His career, with its emphasis on versatility, seriousness, artistry, and political commitment, provided a template that generations of male movie stars to come, from Paul Newman to Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio, would follow. Isaac Butler, The New Yorker, 1 Nov. 2022 After the three-week trial concluded in August, the ultimate decision marks a major win for the Biden administration and its emphasis on antitrust enforcement. J. Kim Murphy, Variety, 31 Oct. 2022 Madden says skilled politicians will pivot to a general election by switching their emphasis without running away from past positions. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, 25 Oct. 2022 But even with its new emphasis on ransomware, the FBI didn’t undertake fundamental reforms to expand its roster of cyber experts. Renee Dudley, ProPublica, 22 Oct. 2022 Many of those young riders gravitate toward freeriding, which is distinguished by its emphasis on acrobatics and creativity. Julie Jag, The Salt Lake Tribune, 21 Oct. 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.

Word History

Etymology

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.

First Known Use

1534, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

Time Traveler
The first known use of emphasis was in 1534

Dictionary Entries Near emphasis

Cite this Entry

“Emphasis.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/emphasis. Accessed 28 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

emphasis

noun

em·​pha·​sis ˈem(p)-fə-səs How to pronounce emphasis (audio)
plural emphases -fə-ˌsēz How to pronounce emphasis (audio)
1
a
: forcefulness of expression
spoke with emphasis
b
: the act or fact of giving stress to a word or syllable when speaking
2
: special attention or importance given to something
put great emphasis on cleanliness

More from Merriam-Webster on emphasis

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