General English


  • noun force of expression that gives importance to something



  • Highlighting of a specific frequency or band of frequencies through amplification.
  • The process of selectively amplifying higher frequencies of an audio frequency signal before transmission, or during recording. The utilization of emphasis followed by deemphasis may help improve the overall signal-to-noise ratio and reduce distortion, among other benefits. Also called preemphasis.

Information & Library Science

  • noun extra force given to a word or activity in order to make it seem important

Origin & History of “emphasis”

In Greek, émphasis originally meant simply ‘appearance’. It was a derivative of emphaínein ‘exhibit, indicate’, a compound verb formed from the prefix en- ‘in’ and phaínein ‘show’ (source of English phase). It came to be used as a grammatical term denoting ‘implication’ (as opposed to ‘directly expressed meaning’) and passed in this sense via Latin emphasis into English. Its main modern use, ‘special importance placed on something’, derives from the stressing of a particular word or phrase in speech to show that it is intended to imply something other than its literal meaning might seem to suggest.