What Does Center On Something Mean?

Center On Something Meaning

Definition: To focus on something.   

Origin of Center On Something

This phrasal verb developed from the verb center. The word center comes from the Greek kentrum, which means the center point of a compass. Since the 1590s, it has meant to concentrate at the center. Center on is attested from 1713.

Examples of Center On Something

Centered uponIn this dialogue, two coworkers are talking about which movie to watch.

Deanna: Hey. I picked out a few different options for us to watch.

Emily: Sounds good. What are the choices?

Deanna: Well, there’s an action film, a comedy, and an art film that centers on the life of a cat.

Emily: I vote for the cat film.

Deanna: Great. Pop the popcorn.

In the second example, two athletes are discussing a new strategy. 

Billy: You said you have some new plays. What are they?

Angie: Yep! I think they’ll be really great. They all center on the new pitcher. He’s really good!

Billy: Oh, these are really good!

Centered aroundThis third example shows a boss using the expression to describe the main topics of a meeting.

Boss: Everyone please find a seat. This meeting will be short.

Employee: What is it about?

Boss: It will center on some new policies for sick days and paid time off.

Grammar and Usage


A common mistake is to write this phrase as center around, which is a nonsensical variation. It is a mistaken confusion of the phrases revolve around and center on.

Center on is transitive, which means it must have an object following it.

  • Correct: The book centers on three major themes.
  • Incorrect: The book centers on.

For a more full discussion on centers on vs. center around, see here.

Summary

To center on something is another way to say that you are directing your attention to that thing.