[ dih-flekt ]
/ dɪˈflɛkt /
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See synonyms for: deflect / deflected / deflecting on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with or without object)
to bend or turn aside; turn from a true course or straight line; swerve.
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Origin of deflect

1545–55; <Latin dēflectere to bend down, turn aside, equivalent to dē-de- + flectere to bend, turn


de·flect·a·ble, adjectivede·flec·tor, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does deflect mean?

To deflect something is to redirect it—to cause it to move in a direction that’s different from the course it had been on, as in The goalie was able to deflect the ball away from the goal. 

Deflect can also be used in a passive way meaning for something to have its course changed, as in The ball deflected after hitting the goalie’s outstretched hand. 

Deflect can also be used in a figurative way meaning to do something to avoid questioning or scrutiny, as in When asked about the scandal, the senator deflected by giving a vague answer and changing the subject. 

The act or process of deflecting is deflection, which can be used for both the literal and figurative senses of deflect (and more technical uses).

Example: The meteor is headed straight for Earth—our only chance is to deflect it using the space laser!

Where does deflect come from?

The first records of the word deflect come from the mid-1500s. It comes from the Latin dēflectere, “to bend down” or “to turn aside,” from flectere, “to bend” or “to turn” (the same root is used in the word reflect). The prefix de- is used to indicate a reversal or undoing.

The literal sense of deflect is often used in the description of sports action—players deflect balls and pucks to prevent them from entering the goal, the hoop, or another player’s hands. Such deflections are often slight—the ball or puck changes direction only slightly. But deflecting something can sometimes cause it to move in the complete opposite direction, as in The goalie deflected the ball right back at the striker, who then easily kicked it in the goal. 

When you deflect questions or a line of inquiry, you dodge or evade it, often by changing the subject. Politicians are especially known for deflecting questions about things they’d rather not talk about. This figurative sense of deflect is often used in a way that implies that such actions are dishonest.

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What are some other forms related to deflect?

  • deflection (noun)
  • deflector (noun)
  • deflectable (adjective)

What are some synonyms for deflect?

What are some words that share a root or word element with deflect



What are some words that often get used in discussing deflect?


How is deflect used in real life?

Deflect is commonly used in both literal and figurative ways. When used figuratively, it’s usually negative.



Try using deflect!

Which of the following scenarios includes an example of deflecting?

A. John shoots the basketball, but Jane blocks it before it can reach the rim.
B. A rock falls from a dump truck and bounces off a car’s windshield.
C. Justin’s dad asks him if he passed his math test, and Justin responds by asking what’s for dinner.
D. All of the above.

How to use deflect in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for deflect

/ (dɪˈflɛkt) /

to turn or cause to turn aside from a course; swerve

Derived forms of deflect

deflector, noun

Word Origin for deflect

C17: from Latin dēflectere, from flectere to bend
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