[ ri-flek-siv ]
See synonyms for reflexive on
  1. Grammar.

    • (of a verb) taking a subject and object with identical referents, as shave in I shave myself.

    • (of a pronoun) used as an object to refer to the subject of a verb, as myself in I shave myself.

  2. reflex; responsive.

  1. able to reflect; reflective.

  2. Mathematics.

    • noting a relation in which each element is in relation to itself, as the relation “less than or equal to.”: Compare antireflexive.

    • (of a vector space) having the property that the dual space of the dual space of the given vector space equals the given vector space.

  1. Grammar. a reflexive verb or pronoun.

Origin of reflexive

First recorded in 1580–90, reflexive is from the Medieval Latin word reflexīvus turned back, reflected. See reflex, -ive

Other words from reflexive

  • re·flex·ive·ly, adverb
  • re·flex·ive·ness, re·flex·iv·i·ty [ree-flek-siv-i-tee], /ˌri flɛkˈsɪv ɪ ti/, noun
  • sem·i·re·flex·ive, adjective
  • sem·i·re·flex·ive·ly, adverb
  • sem·i·re·flex·ive·ness, noun

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

How to use reflexive in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for reflexive


/ (rɪˈflɛksɪv) /

  1. denoting a class of pronouns that refer back to the subject of a sentence or clause. Thus, in the sentence that man thinks a great deal of himself, the pronoun himself is reflexive

  2. denoting a verb used transitively with the reflexive pronoun as its direct object, as the French se lever "to get up" (literally "to raise oneself") or English to dress oneself

  1. physiol of or relating to a reflex

  2. logic maths (of a relation) holding between any member of its domain and itself: "… is a member of the same family as …" is reflexive Compare irreflexive, nonreflexive

  1. a reflexive pronoun or verb

Derived forms of reflexive

  • reflexively, adverb
  • reflexiveness or reflexivity (ˌriːflɛkˈsɪvɪtɪ), noun

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 reflexive


[ rĭ-flĕksĭv ]

  1. Of or relating to a mathematical or logical relation such that, for any given element, that element has the given relation to itself. Equality in mathematics is a reflexive relation, since a = a for all a, whereas the relation of being 'less than' is not, since it is not true that a < a for any a.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.