inflection

noun

in·​flec·​tion in-ˈflek-shən How to pronounce inflection (audio)
1
: change in pitch or loudness of the voice
2
a
: the change of form that words undergo to mark such distinctions as those of case, gender, number, tense, person, mood, or voice
b
: a form, suffix, or element involved in such variation
c
3
: the act or result of curving or bending : bend
4
a
: change in curvature of an arc or curve from concave to convex or conversely

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Changing the pitch, tone, or loudness of our words are ways we communicate meaning in speech, though not on the printed page. A rising inflection at the end of a sentence generally indicates a question, and a falling inflection indicates a statement, for example. Another way of inflecting words is by adding endings: -s to make a noun plural, -ed to put a verb in the past tense, -er to form the comparative form of an adjective, and so on.

Examples of inflection in a Sentence

She spoke with no inflection. She read the lines with an upward inflection. Most English adjectives do not require inflection. “Gone” and “went” are inflections of the verb “go.” English has fewer inflections than many other languages.
Recent Examples on the Web Jack is doing a really annoying voice in it — high and shaking and whiny with a weird, almost Police-like inflection. Rebecca Alter, Vulture, 29 Mar. 2024 According to the most recent data from the USDA there have been no reported inflections in Florida dairy cows. Michelle Marchante, Miami Herald, 28 May 2024 For each set of symptoms, deep-learning models analyze the person’s words, rhythms, and inflections to generate a score. IEEE Spectrum, 19 May 2024 Winehouse was entirely in her element, swaying to the sultry songs like a furl of smoke and improvising inflections on the lyrics with aplomb. Allaire Nuss, EW.com, 18 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for inflection 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'inflection.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1531, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Time Traveler
The first known use of inflection was in 1531

Dictionary Entries Near inflection

Cite this Entry

“Inflection.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/inflection. Accessed 15 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

inflection

noun
in·​flec·​tion in-ˈflek-shən How to pronounce inflection (audio)
1
: a change in the pitch or tone of a person's voice
2
: the change in the form of a word showing its case, gender, number, person, tense, mood, voice, or comparison
inflectional
-shnəl
-shən-ᵊl
adjective

Medical Definition

inflection

noun
in·​flec·​tion
variants or chiefly British inflexion
: the act or result of curving or bending

More from Merriam-Webster on inflection

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