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Emphasis vs. Emphasize — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Published on December 20, 2023
"Emphasis" is a noun meaning special importance or stress on something, while "Emphasize" is a verb meaning to give special importance to something.
Emphasis vs. Emphasize — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Emphasis and Emphasize


Key Differences

"Emphasis" refers to the weight or significance given to a particular word, phrase, idea, or element within a context. It's the prominence or importance assigned to something. On the other hand, "Emphasize" is an action. It's the act of giving that weight or significance. So, while "Emphasis" is the result, "Emphasize" is the process leading to that result.
"Emphasis" can also denote a particular stress given to words when speaking to enhance meaning. Imagine a speaker who says, "She is the best player on the team." The stress on "the best" gives it emphasis. "Emphasize," in this context, would refer to the act of placing that stress, the act of accentuating those words when speaking.
In typography and design, "Emphasis" might be used to discuss the special attention given to a section of text through methods like bolding, italicizing, or underlining. "Emphasize" in this domain would refer to the designer's decision and action to make that text stand out.
In the context of a discussion or argument, one might place "Emphasis" on their most critical points, making sure they are clearly understood and remembered. On the other hand, to "Emphasize" would be the act of bringing those points to the forefront, repeating them, or presenting them in a way that ensures they capture attention.
Lastly, consider a teacher in a classroom. The teacher might tell the students, "The emphasis of today's lesson is on photosynthesis." Here, "Emphasis" denotes the central theme or main focus. However, as the lesson progresses, the teacher may "Emphasize" key concepts or facts, ensuring the students pay close attention to those specific elements.

Comparison Chart

Part of Speech



Special importance or stress
Act of giving importance

Usage in Speech

"Put emphasis on the word."
"He emphasized the word."


Result or outcome
Action or process

Contextual Example

"The emphasis is on quality."
"We emphasize on quality."

Compare with Definitions


Intensity or forcefulness expressed.
There was a strong emphasis on following protocol.


To make something more clearly defined.
The lights emphasize the art on the walls.


Main focus or center of attention.
The emphasis of the story was on redemption.


To highlight or draw attention to.
The article emphasizes the challenges faced.


Stress given to a word or words when speaking.
His emphasis on the last word made his sarcasm clear.


To give special importance or prominence to something.
She emphasized the need for immediate action.


Special forcefulness of expression that gives importance to something singled out; stress
A lecture on housekeeping with emphasis on neatness.
Paused for emphasis, then announced the winner's name.


To stress a word or phrase when speaking.
He emphasized must to indicate it was a requirement.


Special attention or effort directed toward something
A small-town newspaper's emphasis on local affairs.


To make a point in a persuasive or forceful way.
The teacher emphasized the importance of studying.


Prominence given to a syllable, word, or words, as by raising the voice or printing in italic type.


Give special importance or value to (something) in speaking or writing
I would emphasize that I am not an economist
They emphasize the need for daily, one-to-one contact between parent and child


Special weight or forcefulness given to something considered important.
He paused for emphasis before saying who had won.


Lay stress on (a word or phrase) when speaking
His father emphasized the wrong words in his sentence


Special attention or prominence given to something.
Anglia TV's emphasis is on Norwich and district.
Put emphasis on the advantages rather than the drawbacks


Make (something) more clearly defined
A hip-length jacket which emphasized her shape


Prominence given to a syllable or words, by raising the voice or printing in italic or underlined type.
He used a yellow highlighter to indicate where to give emphasis in his speech.


To give emphasis to; stress
She emphasized that the matter was urgent.


(phonology) The phonetic or phonological feature that distinguishes emphatic consonants from other consonants.


To cause to appear important or deserving of attention
The bank failure emphasized the need for reform.


(typography) The use of boldface, italics, or other such formatting to highlight text. en


To give prominence of sound to (a syllable or word) in pronouncing or in accordance with a metrical pattern.


A particular stress of utterance, or force of voice, given in reading and speaking to one or more words whose signification the speaker intends to impress specially upon his audience.
The province of emphasis is so much more important than accent, that the customary seat of the latter is changed, when the claims of emphasis require it.


(transitive) To stress, give emphasis or extra weight to (something).
His two-fingered gesture emphasized what he had told his boss to do with his job.


A peculiar impressiveness of expression or weight of thought; vivid representation, enforcing assent; as, to dwell on a subject with great emphasis.
External objects stand before us . . . in all the life and emphasis of extension, figure, and color.


To utter or pronounce with a particular stress of voice; to make emphatic; as, to emphasize a word or a phrase.


A special attention given to, or extra importance attached to, something; as, a guided tour of Egypt with emphasis on the monuments along the Nile.


To stress, single out as important;
Dr. Jones emphasizes exercise in addition to a change in diet


Something to which great importance is attached; as, the need for increased spending on education was the emphasis of his speech.


Give extra weight to (a communication);
Her gesture emphasized her words


Special importance or significance;
The red light gave the central figure increased emphasis
The room was decorated in shades of gray with distinctive red accents


Intensity or forcefulness of expression;
The vehemence of his denial
His emphasis on civil rights


Special and significant stress by means of position or repetition e.g.


The relative prominence of a syllable or musical note (especially with regard to stress or pitch);
He put the stress on the wrong syllable


Special importance or value given to something.
The emphasis of the meeting was on safety procedures.


A distinctive feature or quality.
The emphasis of the design was its minimalism.

Common Curiosities

What part of speech is "Emphasis"?

"Emphasis" is a noun.

Can "Emphasize" be used without an object?

Generally, "Emphasize" is a transitive verb and requires an object, as in "She emphasized the point."

What is the adjective form of "Emphasis"?

The adjective form is "Emphatic."

Can "Emphasis" refer to vocal stress?

Yes, "Emphasis" can refer to the stress given to words when speaking.

What part of speech is "Emphasize"?

"Emphasize" is a verb.

How can I use "Emphasize" in a sentence?

For example, "I want to emphasize the importance of teamwork."

Is "Emphasize" only about speaking?

No, "Emphasize" can refer to giving importance in various contexts, including writing, design, or any form of communication.

Can "Emphasize" relate to making something more visible or clear?

Yes, to "Emphasize" can mean to make something more noticeable or clear.

How can I use "Emphasis" in a sentence?

For example, "The emphasis in his speech was on community involvement."

Can "Emphasis" and "Emphasize" be used interchangeably?

No, they have different grammatical roles: one is a noun and the other is a verb.

How is "Emphasis" used in design?

In design, "Emphasis" refers to areas or elements that stand out and capture attention.

Does "Emphasis" always mean something positive?

No, "Emphasis" is neutral; it's about importance or prominence, which can be positive, negative, or neutral.

Can you "Emphasize" something unintentionally?

Yes, one can unintentionally draw attention to or stress something, thereby emphasizing it.

What's a synonym for "Emphasis"?

A synonym for "Emphasis" is "importance" or "stress."

What's a synonym for "Emphasize"?

A synonym for "Emphasize" is "highlight" or "stress."

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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