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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for inflection


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

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Chinese delegates packed the hall minutes before Mr. Xi walked on stage, applauding the president on cue at key inflections in his speech. Rachel Pannett, WSJ, "U.S., China Clash Over Trade, Security at Pacific Summit," 17 Nov. 2018 There are long critical essays, short book reviews, reportage with a literary inflection, histories, missives, diary entries, aphorisms, parables, advice, dreams, a test, fictional excursus and, yes, lists. Zachary Fine, WSJ, "‘Attention’ Review: Anatomist of Our Disorder," 30 Aug. 2018 Only six characters long, but with inflections, extensions and complications that go on and on. New York Times, "Swahili, the Pulse of Life at the Crossroads," 14 June 2018 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

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.

See More

First Known Use of inflection

1531, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about inflection

Share inflection

Statistics for inflection

Last Updated

22 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for inflection

The first known use of inflection was in 1531

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


a shady place in a garden or forest

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt-painting-a-young-scholar-and-his-tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!