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Definition needed[edit]

The English entry needs a definition. It is bad practice to have translations without definitions, especially, as in this case, where a word has more than one definition (here: meeting of light rays; something focused on; one of two points A and B interior to an ellipse such that the sum of the distance from any point on the ellipse to these two points is constant; etc) — Paul G 14:13, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Ergative senses?[edit]

I'm trying to figure out whether any of the transitive verb senses are ergative. "I focused the microscope, so the microscope focused"? "I focused the liquid, so the liquid focused"? "I focused the light, so the light focused"? Any one know if any of these are logical?

Definition 3 of the verb - is this really transitive? I don't think it has a direct object... 21:16, 17 July 2008 (UTC)

Focused vs. focussed[edit]

The rule for focused/focussed is not a US/UK thing, the general rule is single s in both, whilst the double is (to my chagrin) acceptable, and increasingly used in the UK by people who don't KNOW the grammatical rule: "words that are not stressed on the final syllable do not double the consonant unless it is an l: (table including 'focus/focused/focusing)(Reference: Pocket Fowler's Modern English Usage by Robert Allen (OUP, second edition 2008). I had a lengthy reply from the Oxford Word and Language Service on this topic and am pleased to say they confirmed that the 'proper' form in the UK is single s. They included this entry from Oxford Dictionary of English (2005): "Focus. The noun has plural forms focuses in general use and foci (foh-siy) in technical use, and the verb has inflected forms focuses, focused, focusing, although some printing styles prefer forms with -ss-" 11:40, 16 March 2011 (UTC)

Yet most of the citations in the full OED have the "double s" form (only one out of sixteen uses the single "s"). Fowler's "rule" is largely ignored by most of us in the UK since doubling the "s" avoids confusion with "used" which has a different pronunciation. Another exception to Fowler's "rule" is the verb to "rumpus" where the "s" is also doubled (on both sides of the pond?) Dbfirs 08:20, 17 December 2012 (UTC)
I checked Google Books Ngrams, and in British English, the -ss- spellings were commoner up until the mid-1930s, and the -s- spellings have been commoner since then. In American English, the -s- spellings have always been commoner. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 18:55, 8 April 2014 (UTC)


Doesn't the Latin word "focus" seem to reflex the Proto-Indo-European root "dhegh-", to burn? It might be an ablaut: "dhogh-">"dhóghos">"focus". Perhaps the Armenian reflex comes from a variant "dhwogh-">"bogh">"boc".—This unsigned comment was added by (talk) at 23:17, 8 December 2012‎.

The problem isn't the vowels, but the second consonant: *gʰ can become a few different things in Latin, depending on the neighboring sounds, but k (spelled c) isn't one of them, as far as I know. We would have to explain it by assuming a voiceless variant, such as *dʰek, or by borrowing from some unknown language or dialect with a sound change that affected only one of the two consonants, or by some kind of random coincidence, such as borrowing of a non-Italic word that happened to resemble what the PIE root would have produced, or the independent creation of such a word after the Indo-European period. There's enough uncertainty to allow that any number of things might have happened, but nothing I've ever heard of in the evolution of Latin that would say that any one of them would be at all likely to have happened. In other words, it's unknown where this came from. Of course, there may be something I don't know about (I'm not an expert), but nobody's suggested one of them here. Chuck Entz (talk) 03:05, 9 December 2012 (UTC)