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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for refracts

Historical Examples of refracts

  • In small things and in great consciousness transforms or refracts.

    The Will to Doubt

    Alfred H. Lloyd

  • How is it that a lens bends (refracts is the big word for it) the rays of light?

  • Either a body absorbs light, or it reflects or refracts it, or does all these things.

  • If it neither reflects nor refracts nor absorbs light, it cannot of itself be visible.

  • Because, like a large rain drop, it refracts the rays of light, and shows the elementary rays.

British Dictionary definitions for refracts


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

Word Origin for refract

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 refracts



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

refracts 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.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.