Impetus vs emphasis

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Impetus and emphasis are two words that are similar in pronunciation and are often confused. Learning English as a second language can be challenging. The phonetic speech sounds can be hard to distinguish, even for those who speak English as their native language. Language acquisition happens over time, with practice in speaking and reading in the chosen second language. We will examine the difference in the definitions of the words impetus and emphasis, where they came from, and some examples of their use in sentences.

Impetus means something that induces movement, something that precipitates an activity or action, something that motivates someone to do something. Impetus is also the force that moves a body against resistance. The plural form is impetuses. The word impetus is derived from the Latin word impetus which means to assault or attack.

Emphasis is the extra importance that is given to a thing, activity or idea. Emphasis may also be the stress one puts on a syllable or word. Emphasis is the extra value or significance one attributes to something. The plural form is emphases. The word emphasis is derived from the Greek word emphasis which means outward appearance.


Speaking at a regular press briefing in Beijing on Tuesday, foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Xi’s visit aimed to “inject new impetus” into relations in the year the two countries marked the 70th anniversary of establishing diplomatic ties, and to give stalled denuclearisation talks a much needed push. (The South China Morning Post)

Cardinal Jean-Pierre Kutwa of Abidjan has urged Ivory Coast Catholics to get involved and build a more humane world to give a new impetus to the country’s development. (La Croix International)

It is an idea that has been given added impetus by fears that Brexit and rising populism across the European continent would undermine the future of the EU. (The University World News)

State lawmakers introduced new teacher evaluation legislation last week that places more emphasis on classroom observation rather than standardized test scores. (The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

However, her emphasis throughout the competition was promoting science, technology, engineering and math and discussing how she will help contribute to growing the next generation of female engineers and scientists through her platform: STEM to Bloom. (The Daily Astorian)

The building used to house How on Earth, a store and cafe with an emphasis on locally sourced food. (The Fall River Herald News)