dif·​fract | \di-ˈfrakt \

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

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.

First Known Use of diffract

1803, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for diffract

back-formation from diffraction

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Time Traveler for diffract

The first known use of diffract was in 1803

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English Language Learners Definition of diffract

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


transitive verb
dif·​fract | \dif-ˈrakt \

Medical Definition of diffract 

: to cause to undergo diffraction

More from Merriam-Webster on diffract

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Comments on diffract

What made you want to look up diffract? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


obstinately defiant of authority

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