[ ri-flek-shuhn ]
See synonyms for reflection on
  1. 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.

  2. an image; representation; counterpart.

  1. a fixing of the thoughts on something; careful consideration.

  2. a thought occurring in consideration or meditation.

  3. an unfavorable remark or observation.

  4. the casting of some imputation or reproach.

  5. Physics, Optics.

    • the return of light, heat, sound, etc., after striking a surface.

    • something so reflected, as heat or especially light.

  6. Mathematics.

    • (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.

    • (in space) the replacement of each point on one side of a plane by the symmetric point on the other side of the plane.

  7. Anatomy. the bending or folding back of a part upon itself.

Origin of reflection

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English, from Late Latin reflexiōn-, stem of reflexiō “a bending back,” from Latin reflex(us) “bent back” (past participle of reflectere; see reflect) + -iō -ion
  • Also especially British, re·flex·ion .

Other words for reflection

Other words from reflection

  • re·flec·tion·al, adjective
  • re·flec·tion·less, adjective
  • in·ter·re·flec·tion, noun
  • non·re·flec·tion, noun
  • o·ver·re·flec·tion, noun
  • self-re·flec·tion, noun
  • su·per·re·flec·tion, noun

Words that may be confused with reflection

Words Nearby reflection Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use reflection in a sentence

  • Arrived at the dépôt, I discharged my porter, sat down and waited for the place to open, with ample leisure for reflection.

    Glances at Europe | Horace Greeley
  • You speak with about as little reflection as we might expect from one of those children down there playing in the sand.

  • But he could not bear the reflection, and with fevered impatience, he hurried through the business of the morning.

  • Here he can inspect what he sees, say the reflection of the face of his mother or nurse, and compare it at once with the original.

    Children's Ways | James Sully
  • You know the fable about the dog who dropped his meat in the water, trying to snap at its reflection?

British Dictionary definitions for reflection


less commonly reflexion

/ (rɪˈflɛkʃən) /

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

  2. something reflected or the image so produced, as by a mirror

  1. careful or long consideration or thought

  2. implicit or explicit attribution of discredit or blame

  3. maths a transformation in which the direction of one axis is reversed or which changes the sign of one of the variables

  4. anatomy the bending back of a structure or part upon itself

Derived forms of reflection

  • reflectional or 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

Scientific definitions for reflection


[ rĭ-flĕkshən ]

  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 © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for reflection


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 Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.