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Definition of REFRACTION
: deflection from a straight path undergone by a light ray or energy wave in passing obliquely from one medium (as air) into another (as glass) in which its velocity is different
: the change in the apparent position of a celestial body due to bending of the light rays emanating from it as they pass through the atmosphere; also: the correction to be applied to the apparent position of a body because of this bending
: the action of distorting an image by viewing through a medium; also: an instance of this
: the deflection from a straight path undergone by a light ray or a wave of energy in passing obliquely from one medium (as air) into another (as water or glass) in which its velocity is different
a: the refractive power of the eye b: the act or technique of determining ocular refraction and identifying abnormalities as a basis for the prescription of corrective lenses
Change in direction of a wave as it leaves one medium and enters another. Waves, such as sound and light waves, travel at different speeds in different media. When a wave enters a new medium at an angle of less than 90°, the change in speed occurs sooner on one side of the wave than on the other, causing the wave to bend, or refract. When water waves approach shallower water at an angle, they bend and become parallel to the shore. Refraction explains the apparent bending of a pencil when it is partly immersed in water and viewed from above the surface. It also causes the optical illusion of the mirage.