[ em-fuh-sis ]
See synonyms for: emphasisemphases on Thesaurus.com

noun,plural em·pha·ses [em-fuh-seez]. /ˈɛm fəˌsiz/.
  1. special stress laid upon, or importance attached to, anything: The president's statement gave emphasis to the budgetary crisis.

  2. something that is given great stress or importance: Morality was the emphasis of his speech.

  1. Rhetoric.

    • special and significant stress of voice laid on particular words or syllables.

    • stress laid on particular words, by means of position, repetition, or other indication.

  2. intensity or force of expression, action, etc.: Determination lent emphasis to his proposals.

  3. prominence, as of form or outline: The background detracts from the emphasis of the figure.

  4. Electronics. preemphasis.

Origin of emphasis

First recorded in 1565–75; from Latin, from Greek émphasis “indication,” equivalent to em- em-2 + phásis phasis

Other words from emphasis

  • mis·em·pha·sis, noun, plural mis·em·pha·ses.
  • re·em·pha·sis, noun, plural re·em·pha·ses.
  • su·per·em·pha·sis, noun, plural su·per·em·pha·ses.

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use emphasis in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for emphasis


/ (ˈɛmfəsɪs) /

nounplural -ses (-siːz)
  1. special importance or significance

  2. an object, idea, etc, that is given special importance or significance

  1. stress made to fall on a particular syllable, word, or phrase in speaking

  2. force or intensity of expression: he spoke with special emphasis on the subject of civil rights

  3. sharpness or clarity of form or outline: the sunlight gave emphasis to the shape of the mountain

Origin of emphasis

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