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[ri-flek-siv] /rɪˈflɛk sɪv/
  1. (of a verb) taking a subject and object with identical referents, as shave in I shave myself.
  2. (of a pronoun) used as an object to refer to the subject of a verb, as myself in I shave myself.
reflex; responsive.
able to reflect; reflective.
  1. noting a relation in which each element is in relation to itself, as the relation “less than or equal to.”.
    Compare antireflexive.
  2. (of a vector space) having the property that the dual space of the dual space of the given vector space equals the given vector space.
Grammar. a reflexive verb or pronoun.
Origin of reflexive
First recorded in 1580-90, reflexive is from the Medieval Latin word reflexīvus turned back, reflected. See reflex, -ive
Related forms
reflexively, adverb
reflexiveness, reflexivity
[ree-flek-siv-i-tee] /ˌri flɛkˈsɪv ɪ ti/ (Show IPA),
semireflexive, adjective
semireflexively, adverb
semireflexiveness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for reflexive
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • You can readily distinguish between the reflexive and the emphatic use.

    Plain English Marian Wharton
  • And reflexive: con him land geare, knows the land well, 2063; pl.

    Beowulf Unknown
  • A S ni negative; Dak ni prefix in nicha none and base of negative words in shni not combined with reflexive sa.

  • Farrell could not have said, later, whether his next move was planned or reflexive.

    Control Group Roger Dee
  • The termination uba is that of the third person of reflexive verbs.

British Dictionary definitions for reflexive


denoting a class of pronouns that refer back to the subject of a sentence or clause. Thus, in the sentence that man thinks a great deal of himself, the pronoun himself is reflexive
denoting a verb used transitively with the reflexive pronoun as its direct object, as the French se lever "to get up" (literally "to raise oneself") or English to dress oneself
(physiol) of or relating to a reflex
(logic, maths) (of a relation) holding between any member of its domain and itself: "… is a member of the same family as …" is reflexive Compare irreflexive, nonreflexive
a reflexive pronoun or verb
Derived Forms
reflexively, adverb
reflexiveness, reflexivity (ˌriːflɛkˈsɪvɪtɪ) noun
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 reflexive

1580s, "reflective, capable of bending or turning back," from Medieval Latin reflexivus, from Late Latin reflexus (see reflect). Meaning "of the nature of a reflex" is from 1839 (implied in reflexively). Grammatical sense from 1837. Related: Reflexiveness; reflexivity.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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reflexive in Science
Of or relating to a mathematical or logical relation such that, for any given element, that element has the given relation to itself. Equality in mathematics is a reflexive relation, since a = a for all a, whereas the relation of being 'less than' is not, since it is not true that a < a for any a.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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