Definition of focus in English:



  • 1The centre of interest or activity.

    ‘this generation has made the environment a focus of attention’
    • ‘Frequent shifts in the proposed focus of the fund suggest considerable contention behind the scenes.’
    • ‘Focus on the other festivities and don't make food the focus of the evening.’
    • ‘It is clear that New Zealand needs new leadership and a new focus.’
    • ‘He concentrated on finding his focus and ignoring everything else as the voice bombarded him with words.’
    • ‘Another reason can be given for the differing focus of Jewish interest in biblical theology.’
    • ‘Likewise, the securing of ownership of Hearts has been the focus of interest in the Edinburgh club.’
    • ‘Let me focus on Islam in particular, since it is so much the focus of current events and thinking.’
    • ‘Creating awareness of other cultures was an important focus of this project.’
    • ‘We focus on parentage because it is the primary focus of published literature and it is the easiest level of ancestry to understand.’
    • ‘It's easiest to focus on hobbies and favorite interests, although food can also be the focus of the basket.’
    • ‘We keep our focus by concentrating on efforts on the goods and services we are strongest in.’
    • ‘The RFU's ‘Impact’ strategy will be the focus of all activity to increase participation.’
    • ‘Using the pain in both wrists as a focus, he concentrated his distaste directly on the man before him.’
    • ‘But combine it with a programme that lacks a clear focus and Cork's year in the cultural spotlight is already looking shaky.’
    • ‘But if it keeps a clear focus it might achieve a way forward for our embattled province.’
    • ‘It was disappointing to see that the focus of her letter concentrated on the negative aspects and did not paint the full picture.’
    • ‘We believe our evaluation to be rigorously designed, with a defined focus and clear objectives.’
    • ‘Once you have a clear focus, gather the right team around you to get the job done.’
    • ‘It's pretty hard to focus on issues beyond oneself, if the primary focus is the next notch on the bed frame.’
    • ‘The relationship between spirituality and medicine has been the focus of considerable interest in recent years.’
    centre, focal point, central point, centre of attention, hub, pivot, nucleus, heart, cornerstone, linchpin, kingpin, bedrock, basis, anchor, backbone, cynosure
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    1. 1.1 An act of concentrating interest or activity on something.
      ‘our focus on the customer's requirements’
      • ‘Jesse refused to meet her eyes, his focus concentrating on her silver hoop earrings.’
      • ‘Focus on your own feelings and share them with your partner, so you won't lose the focus of your own body.’
      • ‘The focus has been on extensive training programs to build the work force, he reports.’
      • ‘To be charitable, perhaps his paranoid focus on who'd been criticising Latham obscured his focus.’
      • ‘I concentrated all of my focus into my magic as I formed a fireball in my hand.’
      • ‘He concentrated, pulling his focus inward and trying to see if there was something wrong inside that would make him lose control.’
      • ‘But James would also narrow the focus to concentrate solely on the moral gains of unrequited love.’
      • ‘The breakup ruined my concentration, my focus, my ambition at the company.’
      • ‘A line-man likes to narrow his focus and concentrate on his assignments late in the week.’
      • ‘The viewer has to have a greater focus, a greater concentration, to be overwhelmed by a work of visual art or literature.’
      • ‘Our focus concentrated on those clutch sizes thought to be vulnerable to the spread of siblicidal behavior.’
      • ‘Another attack also failed but it served a purpose of concentrating the focus of the Japanese on these torpedo squadrons.’
      • ‘Yelina shifted her focus and began concentrating on her breathing.’
      • ‘All my focus is concentrated on the back that's slowly going further away from me.’
      • ‘I just kept my focus and concentrated on striking as much as I could; I didn't worry about what Wendy was doing.’
      • ‘I relish the hours when my entire focus isn't concentrated on breathing.’
      • ‘Keep your entire focus of concentration on the muscles that you're stretching and how they feel at that moment.’
      emphasis, accent, priority, attention, concentration
      subject, theme, concern, subject matter, topic, issue, question, text, thesis, content, point, motif, thread
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    2. 1.2Geology The point of origin of an earthquake.
      Compare with epicentre
      • ‘This result strongly agrees with the upward migration of seismic foci in the volcanic edifice, which has been found to precede recent flank eruptions.’
      • ‘The geographic point directly above the focus is called the earthquake epicenter.’
    3. 1.3Medicine The principal site of an infection or other disease.
      • ‘In addition, a microscopic focus of transitional cell carcinoma was seen adjacent to the main tumor.’
      • ‘Multiple foci of infection, several millimeters in diameter, were seen in many organs.’
      • ‘There was extensive embolization to the brain and multiple foci of Aspergillus infection in kidneys and adrenal glands.’
      • ‘An identifiable focus of primary infection should also be addressed when possible.’
      • ‘The macroscopically apparent thrombosed vessels in case 3 contained tumor emboli and multiple foci of infarction.’
  • 2mass noun The state or quality of having or producing clear visual definition.

    ‘his face is rather out of focus’
    figurative ‘the incident brought her feelings for Alexander sharply into focus’
    • ‘A specially shaped camera lens and processing method to ensure images are always in focus has been developed.’
    • ‘It's only to be expected that most of the pictures are not of the highest quality, often out of focus or a bit blurred.’
    • ‘There were rumours of a new girlfriend, and the tabloid was interested in any picture, however badly exposed or out of focus.’
    • ‘Shallow depth of field traps the eye in layers of information, in and out of focus.’
    • ‘When she finally did open them, everything blurred out of focus, then came in clear.’
    • ‘It just looks out of focus but its still watchable, like a second generation vhs copy (without the picture roll and wigged out colour).’
    • ‘Even the smallest amateur telescope will clearly show the rings of Saturn, provided it is in focus.’
    • ‘Your face is frozen to an oval miniature, glistening, out of focus.’
    • ‘So nothing is in the shadows, nothing's out of focus.’
    • ‘My eyes are aching and squinting; my book is going in and out of focus.’
    • ‘Jani gasped, and her brown eyes lost their focus as she concentrated.’
    • ‘The camera was so out of focus at the start that the credits were illegible.’
    • ‘The fiber was brought into focus, and the bead was manipulated into the same focal plane.’
    • ‘Artifacts are plentiful, and making matters worse, some scenes were unintentionally shot out of focus.’
    • ‘I'm definitely one of those people who hears most music as a soundtrack to a film going on somewhere in my head, usually deeply out of focus.’
    • ‘So, the scientist-as-detective has been present right from the start of this century, and it's come in and out of focus.’
    • ‘It may be grainy and out of focus, but I quite like that.’
    • ‘The result is blurry and dark, often out of focus.’
    • ‘The room was spinning, and things kept sliding in and out of focus.’
    focal point, point of convergence
    sharp, crisp, distinct, clear-cut, clear, well defined, well focused
    blurred, unfocused, indistinct, blurry, fuzzy, hazy, misty, cloudy, foggy, fogged, shadowy, smoky, faint
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    1. 2.1
      another term for focal point
      • ‘I don't value a more male focus above more female focus.’
      • ‘They primarily felt that education is a necessary and central focus for building a strong nation.’
      • ‘Once you pinpoint your focus, it's time to do more homework about the industries and companies in which you want to find work.’
      • ‘Underrepresented middle-school children are the focus of a new optics outreach program.’
      • ‘The use of collinear beam geometry facilitates the alignment of the overlap of the two foci and ensures high image quality.’
      • ‘Yet, an authentic transgenerational focus radiating from a cultural lens has been lacking.’
      • ‘Her entire focus was concentrated on the small object which rested at the exact center of the room, her one and only focal point.’
      • ‘The case story is often the immediate or central focus of the consultation.’
      • ‘Angus has composed the motifs in defined coloured areas with no central focus.’
      • ‘With respect to the definition of business purpose and business mission, there is only one such focus, one starting point.’
      • ‘The probability for such an event occurring is only significant at the plane of focus, where photon flux is the highest.’
      • ‘The focus vanished and the blaster returned to room temperature.’
      • ‘While Zippy has the attention span of a goldfish, his wife has the focus of an electron microscope.’
      • ‘The gentleman moved his focus to the intersection between the main and back halls that led to the gardens.’
      • ‘Why has religion been such a central preoccupation and focus of debate in political science over the last 20 years?’
      • ‘Breman's central focus is on the working poor at the bottom of Gujarat's society.’
      • ‘As a result, the current focus for tunable lasers is on circuit-switched applications.’
      • ‘The central and overriding focus of this project is dealing with racism face-to-face.’
      • ‘Hence, the character of these variables is one central focus of our current research into OS projects.’
      • ‘Their focus was always upon the general rather than the particular.’
    2. 2.2count noun The point at which an object must be situated with respect to a lens or mirror for an image of it to be well defined.
    3. 2.3count noun A device on a lens which can be adjusted to produce a clear image.
      • ‘He adjusts the focus of the Carl Zeiss 120 mm macro lens, which allows him to work very close up.’
      • ‘Focus on the subject and use the focus lock facility of your camera.’
      • ‘Focus on the subject and keep your finger depressed on the focus lock.’
      • ‘These lenses adjust their focus with a patient's eye muscles to give them seamless near or distance vision.’
      • ‘The microscope has a motorized focus, allowing a minimum step resolution of 25 nm.’
      • ‘He adjusted the focus of the lamp and watched Clark's face contort.’
      • ‘Katsukoii slowly turned a knob, which indicated that she was adjusting the focus.’
      • ‘The focus can be adjusted slightly in order to sharpen up different parts of the image corresponding to objects at different depths in the scene.’
      • ‘Focusing is similar to a traditional roof prism binocular with the right ocular adjustable and a center focus knob.’
  • 3Geometry
    One of the fixed points from which the distances to any point of a given curve, such as an ellipse or parabola, are connected by a linear relation.

    • ‘Well, he discovered, in the elliptical function, that the Sun was located at one of the two foci of the relevant ellipse.’
    • ‘A feed system is placed with its phase center at the focus of the parabola.’
    • ‘The focus and directrix of a parabola were considered by Pappus.’
    • ‘The circumcircle of a triangle formed by three tangents to a parabola, passes through the focus of the parabola.’
    • ‘The catenary is the locus of the focus of a parabola rolling along a straight line.’
  • 4Linguistics
    An element of a sentence that is given prominence by intonational or other means.


[no object]
  • 1Adapt to the prevailing level of light and become able to see clearly.

    ‘try to focus on a stationary object’
    • ‘When she was able to focus, she saw two vamps descending on her.’
    • ‘If Midori had been able to focus beyond the nemesis in front of her, she would have noticed that hope wasn't so terribly far away.’
    • ‘Conservators using a binocular microscope could focus to see crystals and liquid droplets on the glass surfaces.’
    • ‘She could only see a blur at first, but her vision focused and she was able to see clearly her surroundings.’
    • ‘I was so nervous that I couldn't focus clearly on the road and we had to stop to change places with Rachel.’
    • ‘His blue eyes didn't seem to focus on any one person on the floor below him, but seemed to see all of them without focusing.’
    • ‘Squinting, barely able to focus, Bill could make out Neva and the vampire called Lamkin.’
    1. 1.1with object Cause (one's eyes) to focus.
      ‘she focused her eyes on his face’
      • ‘It was difficult to focus her eyes, but she saw that he was gazing intently into them.’
      • ‘She wasn't watching the music video; her eyes were focused inward, deep in thought.’
      • ‘Feeling distinctly sick, he lay back down and focused his eyes, surveying his surroundings.’
      • ‘Every few metres the cat stopped and twisted its head around, focussing its yellow eyes on me, checking to see if I was still in pursuit.’
      • ‘Kino lay back against the wall of the cave, squinting, rubbing and focusing his eyes to get the blind spots out.’
      • ‘Josie's eyes weren't focussed, she wasn't even blinking.’
      • ‘Franklin dug through the spoils, focusing his trained eye and pulling out the impotent mushrooms.’
      • ‘With ears pricked, eyes were focused just two days later for Minstermen watchers of BBC's less sedate They Think It's All Over.’
      • ‘Coughing, she focussed her eyes straight ahead of her and saw a road.’
      • ‘You struggle up in the dark, focusing your eyes in desperation on the digital alarm clock, which tells you that it's 7.30 am.’
      • ‘By then, Kentou was watching it too, trying to focus his eyes onto the blurred shape, trying to make out the features of the body.’
      • ‘I focussed my eyes onto each of the signs and grumbled in annoyance.’
      • ‘It takes a special sort of myopia to focus your eye and see the people who carry out such acts as ‘the oppressed’.’
      • ‘As sales on both sides of the Atlantic in early June revealed, a good provenance works wonders in focussing a collector's eye.’
      • ‘I think some of the brain which attends to focussing my eyes may have leaked out.’
      • ‘I had focused my eyes, like staring through glass at something I wasn't worthy of having.’
      • ‘The woman tries to focus her eyes, but turns them away after a second.’
      • ‘Her body stiffens as she stares at the TV, focusing her eyes, ears, heart and soul on the screen.’
      • ‘His eyes were focussed somewhere off in the deepening gloom.’
      • ‘Sitting down in a chair, I focused my eyes and senses on your face and learnt the lessons of beauty.’
    2. 1.2with object Adjust the focus of (a telescope, camera, or other instrument)
      ‘they were focusing a telescope on a star’
      • ‘For example, in one puzzle you have to focus a telescope, and to do so you have to add or remove 14 lenses.’
      • ‘‘Best seats in the house,’ he said, looking up and focusing his camera.’
      • ‘My heart is seriously about to beat out of my chest, but I focus my camera before I can change my mind and run out the back door.’
      • ‘This instrument can be focused with a wheel that moves the lens tube in and out.’
      • ‘He stopped at the top and focused his camera, snapping a few pictures of the landscape.’
      • ‘Generally Brill focuses his rock-steady handheld camera on the faces of the doctors, nurses and Gillies himself.’
      • ‘Good thing he took the time to focus his video camera on the guy.’
      • ‘So I focused the camera towards Em, and asked her questions.’
      • ‘I focused my Alpha's cameras in on some of the stuff.’
      • ‘‘Just look at me,’ says Juergen, focusing the camera.’
      • ‘Hundreds of people use auto-focus cameras and there are many people who can't focus their cameras anymore.’
      • ‘I focused my camera once more, and again, I went unnoticed.’
      • ‘I believe the Shuttle cameras focus everything from a few inches away until infinity.’
      • ‘I have written about this many times, but modern auto-focus cameras deliver more ‘out of focus’ shots than manually focussed cameras.’
      • ‘He likened this to the chances that an out-of-focus microscope could be focused by small vs. large random adjustments.’
      • ‘I smiled at the site and focused the camera and snapped a few shots.’
      • ‘Arbus focused her camera and triggered the shutter.’
      • ‘She moved closer to the kids and focused her camera.’
      • ‘Using a remote PC, the operator illuminates the target, focuses the camera, and selects the appropriate analytical tools.’
      • ‘We went through the business of focussing the camera, and then gave her the portrait and took the 6d.’
      bring into focus, bring to a focus
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    3. 1.3 (of rays or waves) meet at a single point.
      • ‘Because gamma rays are hard to focus into sharp images, the science team then used the X-ray telescope on Swift to determine a precise location.’
      • ‘These scatter the sun's rays, and prevent them from being focused together into a single bright point.’
      • ‘The effect can be seen in attics under ill-fitting tiled roofs, where the sun's rays are focused through chinks between the tiles.’
      • ‘In narrow inlets and coves, the wave can become focused or amplified, reaching tens of metres in height.’
    4. 1.4with object (of a lens) make (rays or waves) meet at a single point.
      • ‘And they were used for starting fires by focusing the rays of the sun.’
      • ‘Others used a magnifying glass to focus the rays of the sun on the base of the wart.’
      • ‘Telescopes designed to collect and focus X rays from space provide that vision.’
      • ‘When a lens is used to focus the sun's rays onto a piece of paper the distance of the paper from the lens is called the focal length.’
      • ‘When a lens system optimally focuses an incoming ray bundle, the spread of passed wavelengths is in focus at a range of points in front of, on, and behind the sensor focal plane.’
    5. 1.5no object (of light, radio waves, or other energy) become concentrated into a sharp beam.
      • ‘In the deep darkness it moved around quickly, setting up two water glasses on the table while the small light focused away from the two surrounding chairs.’
      • ‘Furthermore, I'm using exercises that keep that stress focused precisely where I want it.’
      • ‘If you have myopia, your eye is generally slightly out of round, with light rays focusing in front of the retina instead of directly on it.’
      • ‘The lights ceased blinking and focused clearly on the blue floored arena masked with fake fog.’
      • ‘It works like your grappling hook did, but instead of string, it uses gravity focused into a ‘beam’ to connect it.’
      • ‘As she watched, the moonlight began focussing, moving, searching.’
      • ‘It produces heat and becomes a very powerful weapon when focused into a laser beam.’
      • ‘The beams of multiple lasers focused in on one point.’
      • ‘Normally a light beam will focus to a point no smaller than about the size of the light's wavelength.’
      • ‘Sykes saw the electricity focus in-between the two prongs that were aimed at him.’
      • ‘The moonbeams coalesced and focused into a single glowing stream.’
      • ‘Designed much like a compound microscope, the electron microscope uses a beam of electrons focused through magnetic lenses.’
      • ‘In that time, the energy had focused and spiked beyond what I have ever felt before.’
      • ‘Because the pump laser's light remains focused in a very narrow beam inside the fiber, it does not need to supply so many photons.’
      • ‘The beam was directed into a customized Leica Metallux 3 microscope and focused at the sample surface via the objective lens.’
      • ‘Light can focus atoms into simple patterns for etching carbon-coated gold layers.’
    6. 1.6with object (of a lens) concentrate (light, radio waves, or energy) into a sharp beam.
      • ‘Just like a camera lens, the eye's lens focuses light to form sharp, clear images.’
      • ‘The transmitter is physically close to the optical fiber and may even have a lens to focus the light into the fiber.’
      • ‘The long focal length portion of the lens focuses to one fovea for viewing in air; the other short focal length focuses below water.’
      • ‘Lenses on cameras not only focus the image but they may magnify or diminish the apparent size of a scene.’
      • ‘The lens stores and then focuses light from the video that you are capturing onto the image sensor located behind it.’
      • ‘Because the zone plate focuses to a point, it must match the focal length of the camera.’
      • ‘These eyes use a single lens to focus images onto a light detector called a retina.’
      • ‘Humans, indeed all seeing vertebrates, have so-called simple eyes: they have a single lens system, focusing light to form one, continuous image of the outside world.’
      • ‘The first students to work on the cyclotron in the lab setting modified the magnet to better focus the proton beam.’
      • ‘A lens focuses this light at the back focal plane of the objective to allow collimation at the sample.’
      • ‘The eye has a lens, and even ‘film’ (the retina), which detects light focused by the lens.’
      • ‘Materials called photonic crystals have the potential to focus visible light, but may not work as well with microwaves.’
      • ‘An objective lens focuses the light onto a region approximately 1 mm in diameter and subsequently collects the light returning from the target.’
      • ‘The images of the stomata were taken with the microscope focused to the narrowest part lower down in the pore.’
      • ‘In this sense, it can easily be seen how a camera's lens always focuses inward at least as much as it does outward toward the subject of the photographer's gaze.’
      • ‘In the simple experiment, a converging lens focuses laser light from two pinholes onto two different photodetectors.’
      • ‘The broadband IR beam passes through the sample chamber and is focused by a lens onto a spinning filter wheel.’
      bring into focus, bring to a focus
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  • 2focus onPay particular attention to.

    ‘the study will focus on a number of areas in Wales’
    • ‘Instead they should be focussing on the over-55s who could decide the result of the next election, expected in May.’
    • ‘What do we lose by focusing on the detail rather than discerning the underlying patterns and meanings?’
    • ‘She would walk the halls ignoring everyone and only focusing on her studies and her revenge.’
    • ‘More studies focusing on this particular problem are needed before a conclusion can be drawn.’
    • ‘While he focuses on the kiwi dollar, he shows how the underlying issues are global.’
    • ‘The study focussed on a period of time beginning four years before the casino opened and four years after.’
    • ‘Instead, they are learning to recognise Mia's feelings through her mood and body movements, instead of focussing on her face.’
    • ‘Yet we see precisely where his mind is looking, the places on which his concentration focuses: lapels, buttons, his accomplice's hand.’
    • ‘Organisers say the emphasis of the week will be very much focused on culture.’
    • ‘As his heart started to race, he drew his attention inward, focussing on his breathing.’
    emphasize, give emphasis to, stress, lay stress on, put stress on, highlight, accentuate, accent, call attention to, draw attention to, focus on, focus attention on, zero in on, spotlight, throw into relief, give prominence to, bring to the fore, foreground, bring home, point up, play up, make a feature of
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    1. 2.1with object Concentrate.
      ‘an opportunity to focus research on the health needs of the population’
      • ‘The two central planks to the strategy focus firstly on retaining existing customers in its core activities of mortgage lending and savings.’
      • ‘The strategic plan focuses primarily on overall goals of the business and defining the business.’
      • ‘First, the overall plot focuses upon the hubris of an upper class that thinks itself above the powers of mortality.’
      • ‘Two of the fighting stances for each character are based on real world martial arts, and the third style focuses solely on weapon-based combat.’
      • ‘The concentration on punishment damages the national debate by focussing all attention on revenge.’
      • ‘This retrospective focuses entirely on works held in British collections, spanning portraits, still lifes and landscapes.’
      • ‘Green is the one single colour that focuses directly on the retina, so it's the easiest colour for the eye to see.’
      • ‘He concentrated, focusing his thoughts on the strange impressions he was receiving.’
      • ‘For example, the close range shield features quick, multiple hits, while the long-range weapon focuses in on powerful blows.’
      • ‘According to dharma, or divine law, temple worship is important because it focuses our concentration on God.’
      concentrate, fix, centre, pivot, zero in, zoom in
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  • 3Linguistics
    with object Place the focus on (an element of a sentence).


Mid 17th century (as a term in geometry and physics): from Latin, literally ‘domestic hearth’.