I saw George Will on TV and he used a word (and immediately defined it) but all I was heard was the definition, not the actual word. "Emmetropic" is the closest I can come to finding a word that meets the definition "simultaneously relaxed and focused" but it seems to have such a specific, physical, meaning and the context seemed to me to indicate a mental state rather than a physical one.

  • 1
    Reminds me of 'grace under pressure'. Mar 31, 2012 at 2:47

7 Answers 7


Try in the zone

1. In a mental state of focused concentration on the performance of an activity, in which one dissociates oneself from distracting or irrelevant aspects of one's environment.

Here's another definition

a temporary state of heightened concentration experienced by a performing athlete that enables peak performance (i.e. players in the zone)


This is probably jargon, but "flow" seems to describe what you mean.

Don't interrupt him, he's in the flow.


It sounds almost like he was talking about hypnosis. I think the hypnagogic state is one in which you are both relaxed and focused.

But it also might have been one of my favorite words, excogitation, which means to ponder or think intently about something. I love that word.


The word was probably "intent".

The man was intent on his work.

This implies a state of focus or deep involvement without stress or panic.

Less likely but still good alternatives might be "attentive", "earnest", "rapt", "preoccupied", "immersed", "engaged", or "concentrated".


Zen is a word used to describe a relaxed and focused meditative state.

I do my best work when I am in a state of Zen.


I would use the word "collected".


Equipoise He uses it in the Ken Burns documentary Baseball when describing Jackie Robinson's entry into major league baseball.

  • This perfectly answers the question, although I think the other words were more generally usable. The link is now broken, though. Here's an article that talks about it.
    – BrainFRZ
    Nov 16, 2017 at 5:44

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