Are you looking to drive home a point?
Do you need to stress how important something is?
Will your writing highlight certain ideas and statements?
Then you're probably looking to emphasize something.
In this article, we'll explore what emphasize means, how you can emphasize ideas in your writing, and give you 30+ emphasize synonym options. Let's get started.
What Does Emphasize Mean?
To emphasize something means to draw attention to it. So if you wear a blue shirt to bring out the blue in your eyes, you could say that your shirt emphasizes your eyes.
We often emphasize words in speech and writing to show that they are important to our meaning.
For example, if we say:
I hope you picked up the blue folder.
We can emphasize different words to change the meaning. If we emphasize "blue", then we're suggesting that there were several colors of folder to choose from. If we emphasize "folder", we're suggesting there were several blue items to choose from.
How Do You Emphasize Something?
In speech, we emphasize by adding inflection to a word—perhaps lengthening it, saying it louder than the rest of the sentence, or speaking with rising inflection.
In writing, one way to emphasize text is by putting it in italics. This makes the word or sentence you want to focus attention on stand out from the rest.
However, if you use italics too much, this technique will lose its effect. It is best practice to use italics for emphasis sparingly in both fiction and non-fiction to remain professional.
We'll look at some other ways to add emphasis to your writing later on.
How Do I Use "Emphasize" in a Sentence?
To emphasize something almost always means to assert how important it is. But this can mean slightly different things depending on the sentence.
It's important to understand how emphasize is used in a sentence to help you pick the right alternative.
- The sign emphasized how dangerous the slope was.
In this example, the presence of the sign drives home the fact that the slope is dangerous.
This sentence could also mean that the words on the sign stress the danger.
Using these two words creates slightly different meanings.
- She used eyeliner to emphasize the color of her eyes.
Here, the eyeliner is used to make the woman's eyes look more prominent in her face. She uses the eyeliner to accentuate her eyes.
- The president strongly emphasized the need to remain calm in his speech.
The president may have made several points in his speech, but this sentence tells us that he placed special importance on the need to remain calm.
- My professor heavily emphasized this topic... I think it will be on the test.
The professor prioritized the topic to give her students a clue as to what would be on the test.
- The report's findings emphasize the urgent need to increase funding for schools.
The findings reiterate something that was already known, adding strength to the argument.
Here are some more examples. Try to work out what purpose the emphasis has in each sentence. Is it to make something stand out visually? To express the importance of one point among others? To prioritize information?
- They repeatedly emphazised that you need to have five years experience before applying.
- Emphasizing kindness in our behavior is more important than ever.
- She used quotes from the book to emphasize her points.
- The rules in the highway code emphasize safety when crossing the street.
What Are Some Synonyms for Emphasize?
We've already seen some alternatives for emphasize in the examples above. We'll look at their specific definitions, and then list some more alternatives.
What Does it Mean to Drive Something Home?
This doesn't mean putting something in your car and driving it to your house.
Instead, the phrase "drive home" uses the verb to drive in the sense of moving something forward by force. Home here means the final place something will land or arrive—its intended position.
When you drive a point home, you are putting effort into making people understand something clearly by describing it in detail, using lots of examples, or repeating it many times.
"Drive home" is usually used when talking about emphasizing ideas.
Can also mean: Instill; Establish
How Do You Stress the Importance of Something?
This one is similar to drive home, and is also mostly used when referring to ideas.
You've probably heard of stress as a feeling. When you feel stressed, all of your thoughts turn to the thing you are stressed about.
Similarly, when you stress something, you make sure people understand how important it is
Can also mean: Repeat; Underline; Play up; Dwell on
What Does Accentuate Mean?
Accentuate is a visual word, but it can also be used for ideas.
To accentuate something is to indicate its importance by centering attention on it. You place an accent on the thing you want to focus attention on.
While you might use "stress" to describe emphasizing something urgent or worrying, "accentuate" can be more neutral or positive.
You wouldn't "wear a corsage to stress the color of your date's dress," but you could "wear a corsage to accentuate the color of your date's dress."
In this scenario, accentuate can also mean "complement"—to positively emphasize a desirable feature of something.
Normally, something accentuates something else. For example:
She used the data in the table to accentuate her point about decomposition rates.
In this example, to accentuate means to add an extra layer of meaning to something.
Can also mean: Highlight; Complement; Accent
Is Prioritize the Same as Emphasize?
When used to mean "put something first", prioritize is a synonym of emphasize.
The graphic designer prioritized the title on the page.
This means the designer made the title larger, gave it more space—or otherwise emphasized it.
Can also mean: Give precedence to
Why Would You Reiterate Something?
To reiterate means to repeat a point you've made before, maybe in a different way to make sure people have understood it.
I must reiterate that it is of the utmost importance that you don't open the box.
Can also mean: Repeat; Restate; Recapitulate
The A–Z List of Emphasize Synonyms
The examples above describe just some of the ways you might want to emphasize something. The most important thing to remember when looking for a different word to use is to make sure the word you choose matches your meaning.
The words on this list can all be used to mean "to emphasize something", but they can also be used in other ways. Check the specific definition before using a word in your writing.
- Add weight to
- Bring out
- Drive home
- Impress (as in, to make an impression on)
- Insist on
- Labor the point
- Make a point of
- Play up
- Point out
- Stress/Lay stress on
Looking for a way to only find relevant synonyms? Try ProWritingAid's Thesaurus Report.
The report will highlight every verb, adjective, adverb, and noun in your text and offer contextually relevant alternatives for them.
That means our AI "reads" your writing to work out what you're trying to say, and then only shows synonyms related to your meaning.
How Do I Emphasize Points in My Writing?
If you want to emphasize (or drive home) a point in an essay or other piece of writing, you'll need to create a strong argument.
In an essay, you need to show how each point you make backs up that argument. One way to do this is by using transition words to link the points in your essay and show how they build on one another.
Words like "consequently", "therefore", and "as a result" emphasize the cause-and-effect relationship between two points.
Using words like "furthermore", "secondly", and "since" emphasize how two points are linked together.
And if you just want to signpost that a point is particularly important, you can start your paragraph with emphasis transition words like "notably", "chiefly", and "in particular". These words tell your reader to pay special attention to these points in relation to your argument.
What Are Some Antonyms of Emphasize?
But what if you want to do the opposite of emphasizing something? An antonym is a word that has the opposite meaning to another word.
These words all mean to de-emphasize something:
- Tone down
How to Use Synonyms of Emphasize
Synonyms can help you avoid repetition and provide more specific descriptions.
But remember: words are different for a reason. All of the synonyms listed above have slightly different meanings and purposes. Before you use a word, make sure to check its exact meaning to make sure it matches what you're trying to say.