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See more synonyms for refract on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with object)
  1. to subject to refraction.
  2. to determine the refractive condition of (an eye).
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Origin of refract

1605–15; < Latin refrāctus, past participle of refringere to break, force back, equivalent to re- re- + frac- (variant stem of frangere to break) + -tus past participle suffix
Related formsre·fract·a·ble, adjectivere·fract·ed·ly, adverbre·fract·ed·ness, nounnon·re·fract·ing, adjectiveun·re·fract·ed, adjectiveun·re·fract·ing, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

swerve, pervert, deform, twist, hook, verge, curl, angle, droop, tilt, yaw, lean, spiral, stoop, warp, circle, flex, crouch, detour, zigzag

Examples from the Web for refract

Historical Examples

  • “Well, I hope it will refract some of the gold when we get there,” said Mark.

    Dead Man's Land

    George Manville Fenn

  • Because they refract the rays of light in the same manner as the rain drops.

  • Because the light vapours of the air, which are condensed as the sun sets, refract the rays of light, and produce red rays.

  • Ions in the air act like drops of mist; they refract sunshine and make rainbows after rain.

    Operation Terror

    William Fitzgerald Jenkins

  • In the mean while another Prism abc is to be fixed next after that hole g, to refract the trajected Light a second time.


    Isaac Newton

British Dictionary definitions for refract


verb (tr)
  1. to cause to undergo refraction
  2. to measure the refractive capabilities of (the eye, a lens, etc)
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Derived Formsrefractable, adjective

Word Origin

C17: from Latin refractus broken up, from refringere, from re- + frangere to break
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 refract


"to bend" (light, sound, heat, etc.), 1610s, back-formation from refraction, and in part from Latin refractus, past participle of refringere. Related: Refracted; refracting.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

refract in Medicine


  1. To deflect something, especially light, from a straight path by refraction.
  2. To determine the refraction of an eye or a lens.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.