verb (used with object)
  1. to modulate (the voice).
  2. Grammar.
    1. to apply inflection to (a word).
    2. to recite or display all or a distinct set of the inflections of (a word); decline or conjugate.
  3. to bend; turn from a direct line or course.
  4. Botany. to bend in.
verb (used without object)
  1. Grammar. to be characterized by inflection.

Origin of inflect

1375–1425; late Middle English inflecten < Latin inflectere to bend in, equivalent to in- in-2 + flectere to bend, curve; cf. flex1
Related formsin·flect·ed·ness, nounin·flec·tive, adjectivein·flec·tor, nounnon·in·flect·ed, adjectiveun·in·flect·ed, adjectiveun·in·flec·tive, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for inflective

Historical Examples of inflective

  • Each of the inflective, harmonic and rhythmic modes has its peculiar law.

  • The mere fact of fusion does not seem to satisfy us as a clear indication of the inflective process.


    Edward Sapir

  • We can call such languages inflective, if we like, but we must then be prepared to revise radically our notion of inflective form.


    Edward Sapir

  • It is in this want of inflective grace that English, and more especially French, speakers lose so much of their force.

  • When the head has a serious part to play, it communicates an inflective movement to the hand, which renders it terrible.

British Dictionary definitions for inflective


  1. (grammar) to change (the form of a word) or (of a word) to change in form by inflection
  2. (tr) to change (the voice) in tone or pitch; modulate
  3. (tr) to cause to deviate from a straight or normal line or course; bend
Derived Formsinflectedness, nouninflective, adjectiveinflector, noun

Word Origin for inflect

C15: from Latin inflectere to curve round, alter, 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

Word Origin and History for inflective



early 15c., "to bend inward," from Latin inflectere (past participle inflexus) "to bend in, bow, curve," figuratively, "to change," from in- "in" (see in- (1)) + flectere "to bend" (see flexible). Grammatical sense is attested 1660s; pronunciation sense (in inflection) is c.1600. Related: Inflected; inflecting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper