What Does Bring Something Into Focus Mean?

Bringing Into Focus Meaning

Definition: To clarify or centralize a point, either in optics or in a discussion.

This transitive verb means to make something more visible through a lens. Upon adjusting the lens of a camera, binoculars, or similar items, you can bring something into focus and see it more clearly. Something out of focus is blurry and hard to distinguish.

This phrase can also mean to bring attention to an issue or to make an issue more understandable by sharing information about it.

Origin of Bring Something Into Focus

The idea of bringing something into focus was originally from the field of optics, starting in the late 1700s, and later photography.

meaning of bring into focusThomas Hobbes introduced focus itself to the English language before that, in the 1650s, but it wasn’t until several decades later that the technology was invented to bring something into focus.

One of the earliest recorded examples of a variation of the phrase can be found in an 1843 edition of the Independent Democrat:

  • …and it is greatly to be regretted by his readers that “he has not great powers of concentration,” and “cannot bring them down to a brilliant focus.”

bringing into focus definitionIn William McFee’s 1914 book Aliens, we can see the phrase as we know it today:

  • I felt certain that so far from demolishing the real mystery, Mr. Carville had only brought it into focus.

Examples of Bring Something Into Focus

In the modern day, people use the phrase when literally making something more visible,

  • We adjusted the binoculars to bring the bright red cardinal into focus.

It is also used when making a concept clearer,

  • After the meeting, the new ad concept was brought into more focus, and everyone left with a clearer idea of what needed to be done.

More Examples

  • “This case will bring into focus the role of the judge versus the law society in matters of alleged incivility,” said Anthony Moustacalis. –Toronto Star
  • But Sood is very optimistic about the future and how if we cultivate empathy and compassion, we can bring into focus the fact that happiness need not be just being positive all the time or a smiley face, but about embracing the full range of human emotions and experience. –The Huffington Post


To bring something into focus is to raise awareness about it or to make it more visible.