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emphasis (n.)

1570s, "intensity of expression," from Latin emphasis, from Greek emphasis "an appearing in, outward appearance;" in rhetoric, "significance, indirect meaning," from emphainein "to present, exhibit, display, let (a thing) be seen; be reflected (in a mirror), become visible," from assimilated form of en "in" (see en- (2)) + phainein "to show" (from PIE root *bha- (1) "to shine").

In Greek and Latin, originally a figure of expression implying more than would ordinarily be meant by the words, it developed a sense of "extra stress" given to a word or phrase in speech as a clue that it implies something more than literal meaning. In pure Latin, significatio.

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Definitions of emphasis from WordNet

emphasis (n.)
special importance or significance;
the red light gave the central figure increased emphasis
Synonyms: accent
emphasis (n.)
intensity or forcefulness of expression;
his emphasis on civil rights
Synonyms: vehemence
emphasis (n.)
special and significant stress by means of position or repetition e.g.;
emphasis (n.)
the relative prominence of a syllable or musical note (especially with regard to stress or pitch);
Synonyms: stress / accent
From wordnet.princeton.edu