• The visual quality of the out-of-focus areas of a photographic image, especially as rendered by a particular lens.

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Example Sentences

“This artist uses large areas of bokeh in his portraits to create visual interest.”

“I need to switch to a different lens for a better bokeh effect.”

“When I took that photography class, my goal was to get better at producing bokeh.”

Word Origin

Japanese, 1990s

Why this word?

The word “bokeh” should be familiar to photographers as the blurred or out-of-focus areas of an image, but it only entered English in the 1990s. It comes from the Japanese word “boke,” a shortened form of “pinboke,” meaning “state of being out of focus,” which came from “bokeru,” meaning “become befuddled.” The Japanese roots have nothing to do with photography, but some of the top camera brands (Nikon, Canon, Minolta, Pentax, to name a few) are Japanese, which likely contributed to the field’s language. A bokeh effect can be achieved with certain lenses during the photography process, but it can also be achieved now through digital editing.

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