re·flect | \ ri-ˈflekt \
reflected; reflecting; reflects

Definition of reflect 

transitive verb

1 archaic : to turn into or away from a course : deflect

2 : to prevent passage of and cause to change direction a mirror reflects light

3 : to bend or fold back

4 : to give back or exhibit as an image, likeness, or outline : mirror the clouds were reflected in the water

5 : to bring or cast as a result his attitude reflects little credit on his judgment

6 : to make manifest or apparent : show the painting reflects his artistic vision the pulse reflects the condition of the heart

intransitive verb

1 : to throw back light or sound

2a : to think quietly and calmly

b : to express a thought or opinion resulting from reflection

3a : to tend to bring reproach or discredit an investigation that reflects on all the members of the department

b : to bring about a specified appearance or characterization an act which reflects well on her

c : to have a bearing or influence

Keep scrolling for more

Choose the Right Synonym for reflect

think, cogitate, reflect, reason, speculate, deliberate mean to use one's powers of conception, judgment, or inference. think is general and may apply to any mental activity, but used alone often suggests attainment of clear ideas or conclusions. teaches students how to think cogitate implies deep or intent thinking. cogitated on the mysteries of nature reflect suggests unhurried consideration of something recalled to the mind. reflecting on fifty years of married life reason stresses consecutive logical thinking. able to reason brilliantly in debate speculate implies reasoning about things theoretical or problematic. speculated on the fate of the lost explorers deliberate suggests slow or careful reasoning before forming an opinion or reaching a conclusion or decision. the jury deliberated for five hours

Examples of reflect in a Sentence

The old church is reflected in the glass exterior of the skyscraper. Her book clearly reflects her beliefs. Where you learned a language is reflected in your accent.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

The numbers reflect a rise in tick populations across the country, said study author Nate Nieto. Dennis Thompson, CBS News, "Ticks that carry Lyme disease are spreading fast," 13 July 2018 As many of these voters name him as pick the next five presidents combined: No doubt much of this reflects not only the liberal leanings of younger voters but also the gap in experience: Only the oldest millennials remember much from Reagan’s era. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Poll: Barack Obama Was the Greatest President of Our Lifetime," 11 July 2018 Ask them to read a particular article or book, attend an event, meet someone, listen to a podcast, reflect. Charli Cooksey, Teen Vogue, "How to Have Uncomfortable Conversations," 10 July 2018 List prices do not reflect what most patients or insurance companies pay. Kate Gibson, CBS News, "Trump tweet slams Pfizer over drug price hikes," 9 July 2018 By reflecting on their own national flag, many expressed the same economic nationalism U.S. flag manufacturers espoused—only in this case, globalization is currently working in China’s favor. Michael D. Breidenbach, The Atlantic, "Raising the American Flag Made in China," 4 July 2018 As experts have repeatedly pointed out, the North Koreans have a very different idea of what denuclearization means, seeing it as a long process that’s reflected on both sides. Alan Murray, Fortune, "Hello AMLO, EU Retaliation, Stocks Stumble: CEO Daily for July 2, 2018," 2 July 2018 The move aimed to shore up support among Republicans who feared Trump’s ideological flexibility would be reflected in his judicial nominees, imperiling a decades-long effort to reshape the nation’s courts in their image. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Anthony Kennedy’s Great Legacy: His Exit," 27 June 2018 But Joanna in all of these photographs is a person that is constantly reflecting on the awe and wonder of this child being born. Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "Body Language Experts Analyze Chip and Joanna Gaines With Their New Baby Crew," 26 June 2018

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for reflect

Middle English, from Latin reflectere to bend back, from re- + flectere to bend

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about reflect

Statistics for reflect

Last Updated

16 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for reflect

The first known use of reflect was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for reflect



English Language Learners Definition of reflect

of light, sound, etc. : to move in one direction, hit a surface, and then quickly move in a different and usually opposite direction

: to show the image of (something) on a surface

: to show (something) : to make (something) known


re·flect | \ ri-ˈflekt \
reflected; reflecting

Kids Definition of reflect

1 : to bend or throw back (waves of light, sound, or heat) A polished surface reflects light.

2 : to give back an image or likeness of in the manner of a mirror The clouds were reflected in the water.

3 : to make known The book reflects her beliefs.

4 : to cause to be thought of in a specified way or in a bad way Your poor behavior reflects on the whole class.

5 : to think seriously and carefully about I reflected on the problem.


transitive verb
re·flect | \ ri-ˈflekt \

Medical Definition of reflect 

1 : to bend or fold back : impart a backward curve, bend, or fold to

2 : to push or lay aside (as tissue or an organ) during surgery in order to gain access to the part to be operated on the pleura were reflected and later closed over the stump

intransitive verb

: to throw back light or sound : return rays, beams, or waves

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on reflect

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


the setting in which something occurs

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


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!