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[ri-frakt] /rɪˈfrækt/
verb (used with object)
to subject to refraction.
to determine the refractive condition of (an eye).
Origin of refract
1605-15; < Latin refrāctus, past participle of refringere to break, force back, equivalent to re- re- + frac- (variant stem of frangere to break) + -tus past participle suffix
Related forms
refractable, adjective
refractedly, adverb
refractedness, noun
nonrefracting, adjective
unrefracted, adjective
unrefracting, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for refract
Historical Examples
  • “Well, I hope it will refract some of the gold when we get there,” said Mark.

    Dead Man's Land George Manville Fenn
  • Because they refract the rays of light in the same manner as the rain drops.

    The Reason Why Anonymous
  • Because the light vapours of the air, which are condensed as the sun sets, refract the rays of light, and produce red rays.

    The Reason Why Anonymous
  • Ions in the air act like drops of mist; they refract sunshine and make rainbows after rain.

    Operation Terror William Fitzgerald Jenkins
  • In the mean while another Prism abc is to be fixed next after that hole g, to refract the trajected Light a second time.

    Opticks Isaac Newton
  • Nevertheless they are quite sufficient to interfere with and refract the light rays and to split them up prismatically.

  • Its rays pass through prisms formed so as to refract impinging light into desired paths with but little loss.

    Inventors at Work George Iles
  • In the Phædrus, which is the supplement of the Symposion, he made it refract something approaching the splendor of truth revealed.

  • We see, then, that the effect which a fog produces is mainly to refract the light rays.

British Dictionary definitions for refract


verb (transitive)
to cause to undergo refraction
to measure the refractive capabilities of (the eye, a lens, etc)
Derived Forms
refractable, adjective
Word Origin
C17: from Latin refractus broken up, from refringere, from re- + frangere to break
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 refract

"to bend" (light, sound, heat, etc.), 1610s, back-formation from refraction, and in part from Latin refractus, past participle of refringere. Related: Refracted; refracting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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refract in Medicine

refract re·fract (rĭ-frākt')
v. re·fract·ed, re·fract·ing, re·fracts

  1. To deflect something, especially light, from a straight path by refraction.

  2. To determine the refraction of an eye or a lens.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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