[ in-flek-shuhn ]
See synonyms for inflection on
  1. modulation of the voice; change in pitch or tone of voice.

  2. Also flection. Grammar.

    • the process or device of adding affixes to or changing the shape of a base to give it a different syntactic function without changing its form class.

    • the paradigm of a word.

    • a single pattern of formation of a paradigm: noun inflection; verb inflection.

    • the change in the shape of a word, generally by affixation, by means of which a change of meaning or relationship to some other word or group of words is indicated.

    • the affix added to produce this change, as the -s in dogs or the -ed in played.

    • the systematic description of such processes in a given language, as in serves from serve, sings from sing, and harder from hard (contrasted with derivation).

  1. a bend or angle.

  2. Mathematics. a change of curvature from convex to concave or vice versa.

Origin of inflection

1525–35; variant spelling of inflexion<Latin inflexiōn- (stem of inflexiō) a bending. See inflect, -ion
  • Also especially British, in·flex·ion .

Other words from inflection

  • in·flec·tion·less, adjective
  • pre·in·flec·tion, noun

Words that may be confused with inflection

Words Nearby inflection Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use inflection in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for inflection



/ (ɪnˈflɛkʃən) /

  1. modulation of the voice

  2. (grammar) a change in the form of a word, usually modification or affixation, signalling change in such grammatical functions as tense, voice, mood, person, gender, number, or case

  1. an angle or bend

  2. the act of inflecting or the state of being inflected

  3. maths a change in curvature from concave to convex or vice versa: See also point of inflection

Derived forms of inflection

  • inflectional or inflexional, adjective
  • inflectionally or inflexionally, adverb
  • inflectionless or inflexionless, 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

Cultural definitions for inflection


A change in the form of a word to reflect different grammatical functions of the word in a sentence. English has lost most of its inflections. Those that remain are chiefly possessive ('s), as in “the boy's hat”; plural (-s), as in “the three girls”; and past tense (-d or -ed), as in cared. Other inflections are found in pronouns — as in he, him, his — and in irregular words such as think/thought, child/children, and mouse/mice.

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.