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.
  3. Rhetoric.
    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.
  4. intensity or force of expression, action, etc.: Determination lent emphasis to his proposals.
  5. prominence, as of form or outline: The background detracts from the emphasis of the figure.
  6. Electronics. preemphasis.

noun plural -ses (-siːz)

  1. special importance or significance
  2. an object, idea, etc, that is given special importance or significance
  3. stress made to fall on a particular syllable, word, or phrase in speaking
  4. force or intensity of expressionhe spoke with special emphasis on the subject of civil rights
  5. sharpness or clarity of form or outlinethe sunlight gave emphasis to the shape of the mountain

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.

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