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[in-flekt] /ɪnˈflɛkt/
verb (used with object)
to modulate (the voice).
  1. to apply inflection to (a word).
  2. to recite or display all or a distinct set of the inflections of (a word); decline or conjugate.
to bend; turn from a direct line or course.
Botany. to bend in.
verb (used without object)
Grammar. to be characterized by inflection.
Origin of inflect
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English inflecten < Latin inflectere to bend in, equivalent to in- in-2 + flectere to bend, curve; cf. flex1
Related forms
inflectedness, noun
inflective, adjective
inflector, noun
noninflected, adjective
uninflected, adjective
uninflective, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for inflective
Historical Examples
  • Each of the inflective, harmonic and rhythmic modes has its peculiar law.

  • The mere fact of fusion does not seem to satisfy us as a clear indication of the inflective process.

    Language Edward Sapir
  • We can call such languages inflective, if we like, but we must then be prepared to revise radically our notion of inflective form.

    Language Edward Sapir
  • It is in this want of inflective grace that English, and more especially French, speakers lose so much of their force.

  • When the head has a serious part to play, it communicates an inflective movement to the hand, which renders it terrible.

  • And now let me show you a series of lines which my father called the inflective medallion.

  • We now come to the difference between an “inflective” and an “agglutinative” language.

    Language Edward Sapir
  • “Fusional” and “symbolic” contrast with “agglutinative,” which is not on a par with “inflective” at all.

    Language Edward Sapir
  • The inflective -m of whom is felt as a drag upon the rhetorical effectiveness of the word.

    Language Edward Sapir
  • The triple object of the dynamic are the rhythmic, inflective and harmonic forms.

British Dictionary definitions for inflective


(grammar) to change (the form of a word) or (of a word) to change in form by inflection
(transitive) to change (the voice) in tone or pitch; modulate
(transitive) to cause to deviate from a straight or normal line or course; bend
Derived Forms
inflectedness, noun
inflective, adjective
inflector, noun
Word Origin
C15: from Latin inflectere to curve round, alter, from flectere to bend
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for inflective



early 15c., "to bend inward," from Latin inflectere (past participle inflexus) "to bend in, bow, curve," figuratively, "to change," from in- "in" (see in- (1)) + flectere "to bend" (see flexible). Grammatical sense is attested 1660s; pronunciation sense (in inflection) is c.1600. Related: Inflected; inflecting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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