focus

1 of 2

noun

fo·​cus ˈfō-kəs How to pronounce focus (audio)
plural foci ˈfō-ˌsī How to pronounce focus (audio)
 also  -ˌkī
also focuses
1
a
: 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.
3
a
: 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
4
a
: 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
focusless adjective

focus

2 of 2

verb

focused also focussed; focusing also focussing

transitive verb

1
: to cause to be concentrated
focused their attention on the most urgent problems
2
a
: 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
focusable adjective
focuser noun
Phrases
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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
That focus endures today, inside an inviting dining room outfitted with ornate moucharabieh lanterns and the same offering of top-tier tagines. Lindsey Tramuta, Bon Appétit, 27 June 2024 Founded in 2018, Semi-Formal’s mission is to tell unique and heartfelt stories that are edgy, contemporary, and socially aware, with a focus on unconventional lead characters. Matt Grobar, Deadline, 27 June 2024
Verb
Being an active listener means maintaining eye contact, focusing your mind solely on the person in front of you (never on your phone), and refraining from offering any unsolicited advice. Josh Smith, Vogue, 28 June 2024 Republican presidents like Richard Nixon, George H. W. Bush, and Donald Trump all focused on urban crime as a way to stir up white suburban voters in particular. Abdallah Fayyad, Vox, 27 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for focus 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'focus.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun and Verb

New Latin, from Latin, hearth

First Known Use

Noun

1664, in the meaning defined at sense 4a

Verb

1807, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of focus was in 1664

Dictionary Entries Near focus

Cite this Entry

“Focus.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/focus. Accessed 13 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

focus

1 of 2 noun
fo·​cus ˈfō-kəs How to pronounce focus (audio)
plural foci -ˌsī How to pronounce focus (audio) also focuses
1
: a point at which rays (as of light, heat, or sound) meet or from which they draw apart or appear to draw apart
especially : the point at which an image is formed by a mirror, lens, or optical system
2
b
: adjustment (as of the eye or binoculars) for clear vision
bring into focus
3
: one of the two points within an ellipse the sum of whose distances from any point on the ellipse is a constant number
4
: a center of activity or interest
5
: the starting point of an earthquake

focus

2 of 2 verb
focused also focussed; focusing also focussing
1
a
: to bring into focus
b
: to adjust the focus of
focus a telescope
2
: to cause to be concentrated
focus attention on a problem
3
: to bring to a focus
focus rays of light
4
: to come to a focus
5
: to adjust one's eye or a camera to a certain range

Medical Definition

focus

1 of 2 noun
fo·​cus ˈfō-kəs How to pronounce focus (audio)
plural foci
ˈfō-ˌsī also -ˌkī
also focuses
1
a
: 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)
2
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

2 of 2 verb
focused also focussed; focusing also focussing

transitive verb

1
: to bring (as light rays) to a focus
2
a
: 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
focusable adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on focus

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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