[bahy-foh-kuh l, bahy-foh-]


Chiefly Optics. having two foci.
(of an eyeglass or contact lens) having two portions, one for near and one for far vision.


bifocals, bifocal eyeglasses or contact lenses.

Origin of bifocal

An Americanism dating back to 1885–90; bi-1 + focal Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for bifocals

Contemporary Examples of bifocals

  • I rang the bell, and a geeky, middle-aged man in bifocals stuck his head around the door.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Hold the Dressing

    Arianne Cohen

    November 11, 2008

Historical Examples of bifocals

  • That surprised, him, and he eyed me over the top of his bifocals.

    Cue for Quiet

    Thomas L. Sherred

  • The bifocals had returned to their incongruous perch on the dome of the head.

    The Brain

    Alexander Blade

  • I removed my glasses to make certain (someday I shall simply have to get bifocals) and saw that it was a foreign cookbook.

  • The turnstiles were blocked by a sandwich board: Mickey in a Ben Franklin wig and bifocals, holding a trowel.

British Dictionary definitions for bifocals


pl n

a pair of spectacles with bifocal lenses



optics having two different focuses
relating to a compound lens permitting near and distant vision
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

Word Origin and History for bifocals

"bifocal spectacles," 1899, see bifocal. Conceived by Benjamin Franklin, but called by him double spectacles.



"having two foci," 1844, from bi- + focal.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for bifocals


[bī-fōkəl, bīfō′-]


Having two focal lengths.
Having one section that corrects for distant vision and another that corrects for near vision.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.