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[em-fuh-sis] /ˈɛm fə sɪs/
noun, plural emphases
[em-fuh-seez] /ˈɛm fəˌsiz/ (Show IPA)
special stress laid upon, or importance attached to, anything:
The president's statement gave emphasis to the budgetary crisis.
something that is given great stress or importance:
Morality was the emphasis of his speech.
  1. special and significant stress of voice laid on particular words or syllables.
  2. stress laid on particular words, by means of position, repetition, or other indication.
intensity or force of expression, action, etc.:
Determination lent emphasis to his proposals.
prominence, as of form or outline:
The background detracts from the emphasis of the figure.
Electronics. preemphasis.
Origin of emphasis
1565-75; < Latin < Greek émphasis indication, equivalent to em- em-2 + phásis phasis
Related forms
misemphasis, noun, plural misemphases.
reemphasis, noun, plural reemphases.
superemphasis, noun, plural superemphases. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for emphasis
  • His new emphasis on mythology and classicism puzzles some dealers and buyers.
  • Their emphasis is on long-term growth.
  • The danger, however, is that too much emphasis on the stock cycle misses the underlying characteristics of this downturn.
  • Both parents graduated college and placed a great emphasis on education.
  • Like many other stereotypes, each of these contains an element of truth that reflects an emphasis on different moral values.
  • Too much emphasis is placed on traditional strategy and tactics.
  • He thought there was too much emphasis placed on salaries instead of retaining the integrity of the game.
  • emphasis is on what's new, rediscovered, or otherwise noteworthy.
  • Exceptionally comprehensive information, with an emphasis on safety.
  • emphasis on may, since no one from the art world's formidable establishment will authenticate the painting.
British Dictionary definitions for emphasis


noun (pl) -ses (-siːz)
special importance or significance
an object, idea, etc, that is given special importance or significance
stress made to fall on a particular syllable, word, or phrase in speaking
force or intensity of expression: he spoke with special emphasis on the subject of civil rights
sharpness or clarity of form or outline: the sunlight gave emphasis to the shape of the mountain
Word Origin
C16: via Latin from Greek: meaning, (in rhetoric) significant stress; see emphatic
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for emphasis

1570s, from Latin emphasis, from Greek emphasis "significance, indirect meaning," from emphainein "to present, show, indicate," from en "in" (see en- (2)) + phainein "to show" (see phantasm). In Greek and Latin, it developed a sense of "extra stress" given to a word or phrase in speech as a clue that it implies something more than literal meaning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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