in·​flec·​tion | \in-ˈflek-shən \

Definition of inflection 

1 : the act or result of curving or bending : bend

2 : change in pitch or loudness of the voice

3a : 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 : accidence

4a : change in curvature of an arc or curve from concave to convex or conversely

b : inflection point

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Synonyms for inflection


angle, arc, arch, bend, bow, crook, curvature, curve, turn, wind

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Did You Know?

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The idea here is a refined take on the classic oyster bar, with just enough Italian inflection to justify the North End address. Todd Plummer, Condé Nast Traveler, "18 Best Restaurants in Boston," 16 July 2018 Hardy’s Brock is composed of weird facial tics, squeaky vocal inflections, and hunched body language. Bryan Bishop, The Verge, "Venom is a bizarre and baffling mess," 3 Oct. 2018 Motl Didner, the Folksbiene’s associate artistic director, provided recordings in Yiddish and Dropbox files for each actor’s part so the performers could learn to properly handle the language’s inflections. Joseph Berger, New York Times, "How Do You Say ‘Tradition’ in Yiddish?," 11 July 2018 The computer program learns how to mimic the person’s facial expressions, mannerisms, voice, and inflections. Deb Riechmann,, "‘I never said that!’ The high-tech deception of ‘deepfake’ videos," 2 July 2018 There’s often a proverbial fine line separating similar wine words — a single letter difference, or an inflection. Michael Austin,, "A lesson on wine terms that will go down easy," 13 June 2018 For this listener, the micro-inflections in phrasing and dynamics often worked against the music’s broader expressive arc, but the performance overall drew hearty approval from the Shed audience. Jeremy Eichler,, "Tanglewood opens with Bernstein’s exuberance, Lang Lang’s return," 8 July 2018 If sound could be seen, tears of joy would have been dripping off each inflection. Steven Goff,, "'Goooooool!' Andres Cantor is the Spanish-speaking American voice of the World Cup," 7 June 2018 And a geographic move isn’t the only thing that can necessitate a change in inflection. Cari Romm, The Cut, "Linguists Explain Meghan Markle’s Apparent New British Accent," 10 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'inflection.' 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 inflection

1531, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for inflection

Last Updated

29 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for inflection

The first known use of inflection was in 1531

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More Definitions for inflection



English Language Learners Definition of inflection

: a rise or fall in the sound of a person's voice : a change in the pitch or tone of a person's voice

grammar : a change in the form of a word that occurs when it has a particular use

: a form of a word that occurs when it has a particular use : an inflected form


in·​flec·​tion | \in-ˈflek-shən \

Kids Definition of inflection

1 : a change in the pitch of a person's voice

2 : a change in a word that shows a grammatical difference (as of number, person, or tense)


variants: or chiefly British inflexion \in-​ˈflek-​shən \

Medical Definition of inflection 

: the act or result of curving or bending

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Comments on inflection

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


to make faulty or ineffective

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