Brainfood: Words-Worth - Focus

As the picture ahead becomes more blurred, you may feel the need to adjust your 'focus'.

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Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

As the picture ahead becomes more blurred, you may feel the need to adjust your 'focus'. But be careful you don't get burned, because - as the dwindling population of Latinists can tell you - the word really means 'fireplace'.

But a fireplace, however impressive, rarely plays a part in corporate life. The 'focus' we value, and the 'focus groups' we employ, take their name from optical technology. In the late 16th century, when early scientists were finding ways of burning holes in paper with lenses and mirrors, they needed a name for the spot where the rays of light converged and created heat: they called that the 'fire place', or in other words (Latin words) the 'focus'. Finding 'focus' is a good idea, whether you are a tennis player trying to ignore well-meaning barracking, or a multi-faceted company trying to turn yourselves into something simple. But before you start, take a step back: you don't want to get burnt.

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