• synonyms


[bahy-ri-frin-juh ns]
noun Optics.
  1. double refraction.
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Origin of birefringence

First recorded in 1885–90; bi-1 + refringence
Related formsbi·re·frin·gent, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for birefringence

Historical Examples

  • The difference between the two indices is a measure of the strength of the double refraction or birefringence.

    Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 7, Slice 7


British Dictionary definitions for birefringence


  1. another name for double refraction
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Derived Formsbirefringent, 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

birefringence in Medicine


  1. The resolution or splitting of a light wave into two unequally reflected waves by an optically anisotropic medium such as calcite or quartz.
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Related formsbi′re•fringent adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

birefringence in Science


  1. The property or capacity of splitting a beam of light into two beams, each refracted at a different angle, and each polarized at a right angle to the other. Certain crystals such as calcite and quartz have this property.
  2. The difference in the index of refraction between two beams passing through a substance that has this property. See also refraction index of refraction.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.