in·​flec·​tion | \ in-ˈflek-shən How to pronounce inflection (audio) \

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

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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

Morris is a rising superstar of rare nuance; Carlile is a literary-spirited outsider with a fierce wail; Shires uses Dolly Parton inflections for sneakily devastating narratives; Hemby, the least known of the members, has written five No. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "The Highwomen’s Joyful Country-Music Rewrites," 6 Sep. 2019 Keret also said this collection was a return to the sci-fi inflections of his earlier stories. Gal Beckerman, New York Times, "If Kafka Were Israeli and Wrote About Talking Goldfish," 30 Aug. 2019 Zhang made the Debussy movements marvels of magical pastels and half-lights, of the subtlest rhythmic inflections. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, "D-FW connections abound in N.M. performances by pianist Haochen Zhang and the Santa Fe Desert Chorale," 6 Aug. 2019 The production benefits greatly from the terrific Brooks, who infuses even prosaic moments — chitchat with Lia over potato chips, for instance — with interesting inflections and intense personality. Celia Wren, Washington Post, "No shoo-in success for two new plays about female artists," 12 June 2019 It can be expressed in a variety of ways: sometimes as an explicit bias, sometimes as a subtle inflection, like the tone color in a piece of music; sometimes erupting in the heat of argument, like the revenge of the repressed. Adam Shatz, The New York Review of Books, "‘Orientalism,’ Then and Now," 20 May 2019 The inflection told me the chimpanzees were surprised or uneasy. National Geographic, "Jane Goodall’s original tale of chimpanzees still astonishes today," 17 Apr. 2019 So, is there a chance that a member of the royal family could have a stateside inflection? Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Will Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's Baby Have an Accent?," 7 May 2019 Every line, every inflection of his voice, every action, must have a reason behind it in order to help the audience see that Rebecca and Miguel are the real deal. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "Jon Huertas Has a Message for All the Miguel Haters Out There," 19 Mar. 2019

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

4 Oct 2019

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
: 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 How to pronounce inflection (audio) \

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 How to pronounce inflexion (audio) \

Medical Definition of inflection

: the act or result of curving or bending

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Comments on inflection

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transposition of initial sounds of words

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