dif·​fract | \ di-ˈfrakt How to pronounce diffract (audio) \
diffracted; diffracting; diffracts

Definition of diffract

transitive verb

: to cause to undergo diffraction

Examples of diffract in a Sentence

Light is diffracted when it passes through a prism.

Recent Examples on the Web

All living organisms have what are known as chiral molecules, which can reflect, refract, or diffract light. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Alien Plant Hunter Taking First Steps on Earth. Next Stop: Jupiter," 22 Aug. 2019 According to astronomy magazine Sky & Telescope, that is because stars are so distant that their light is easily diffracted (spread out, essentially), but planets are much closer to Earth and therefore appear as disks. Kaitlyn Bancroft, The Know, "See Jupiter with your naked eye tonight during its “biggest and brightest” month," 10 June 2019 In his field, a standard way to deduce structure is to diffract X-rays off things. Quanta Magazine, "A Chemist Shines Light on a Surprising Prime Number Pattern," 14 May 2018 The drop is an illusion created by light waves diffracting—bending, essentially—around the edges of your fingers. Andrew Crumey, WSJ, "‘Through Two Doors at Once’ Review: Interfering With Reality," 3 Aug. 2018 The structure resembles that of tightly packed silica spheres in opal, which diffract light and produce the gemstone’s coveted color. Kai Kupferschmidt, Science | AAAS, "Scientists uncover the secret behind shimmering seaweed," 13 Apr. 2018 The problem with freezing biological samples is that ice crystals diffract the electron beam, blurring the image. Erik Stokstad, Science | AAAS, "A cold, clear view of life wins chemistry Nobel," 4 Oct. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'diffract.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of diffract

1803, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for diffract

back-formation from diffraction

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Statistics for diffract

Last Updated

6 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for diffract

The first known use of diffract was in 1803

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More Definitions for diffract



English Language Learners Definition of diffract

technical : to cause (a beam of light) to bend or spread


transitive verb
dif·​fract | \ dif-ˈrakt How to pronounce diffract (audio) \

Medical Definition of diffract

: to cause to undergo diffraction

More from Merriam-Webster on diffract

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with diffract

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