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[ri-flek-shuh n] /rɪˈflɛk ʃən/
the act of reflecting, as in casting back a light or heat, mirroring, or giving back or showing an image; the state of being reflected in this way.
an image; representation; counterpart.
a fixing of the thoughts on something; careful consideration.
a thought occurring in consideration or meditation.
an unfavorable remark or observation.
the casting of some imputation or reproach.
Physics, Optics.
  1. the return of light, heat, sound, etc., after striking a surface.
  2. something so reflected, as heat or especially light.
  1. (in a plane) the replacement of each point on one side of a line by the point symmetrically placed on the other side of the line.
  2. (in space) the replacement of each point on one side of a plane by the symmetric point on the other side of the plane.
Anatomy. the bending or folding back of a part upon itself.
Also, especially British, reflexion.
Origin of reflection
1350-1400; Middle English < Late Latin reflexiōn- (stem of reflexiō) a bending back, equivalent to Latin reflex(us) (see reflex) + -iōn- -ion
Related forms
reflectional, adjective
reflectionless, adjective
interreflection, noun
nonreflection, noun
overreflection, noun
self-reflection, noun
superreflection, noun
Can be confused
3. meditation, rumination, deliberation, cogitation, study, thinking. 5. imputation, aspersion, reproach, criticism. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for self-reflection
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British Dictionary definitions for self-reflection


the act of reflecting or the state of being reflected
something reflected or the image so produced, as by a mirror
careful or long consideration or thought
implicit or explicit attribution of discredit or blame
(maths) a transformation in which the direction of one axis is reversed or which changes the sign of one of the variables
(anatomy) the bending back of a structure or part upon itself
Derived Forms
reflectional, reflexional, adjective
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 self-reflection



late 14c., reflexion, in reference to surfaces throwing back light or heat, from Late Latin reflexionem (nominative reflexio) "a reflection," literally "a bending back," noun of action from past participle stem of Latin reflectere "to bend back, bend backwards, turn away," from re- "back" (see re-) + flectere "to bend" (see flexible). Of the mind, from 1670s. Meaning "remark made after turning back one's thought on some subject" is from 1640s. Spelling with -ct- recorded from late 14c., established 18c., by influence of the verb.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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self-reflection in Medicine

reflection re·flec·tion (rĭ-flěk'shən)

  1. The act of reflecting or the state of being reflected.

  2. Something, such as light, radiant heat, sound, or an image, that is reflected.

  3. The folding of a membrane from the wall of a cavity over an organ and back to the wall.

  4. The folds so made.

  5. Mental concentration; careful consideration.

  6. A thought or an opinion resulting from such consideration.

re·flec'tion·al adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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self-reflection in Science
  1. The change in direction of a wave, such as a light or sound wave, away from a boundary the wave encounters. Reflected waves remain in their original medium rather than entering the medium they encounter. ◇ According to the law of reflection, the angle of reflection of a reflected wave is equal to its angle of incidence. Compare refraction. See more at wave.

  2. Something, such as sound, light, or heat, that is reflected.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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self-reflection in Culture

reflection definition

A bouncing of light off a surface. People see themselves in mirrors through reflection. (Compare refraction.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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