verb re·flect \ ri-ˈflekt \
|Updated on: 8 Jul 2018

Definition of reflect

reflected; reflecting; reflects
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
1 : to throw back light or sound
2 a : to think quietly and calmly
b : to express a thought or opinion resulting from reflection
3 a : 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

Examples of reflect in a Sentence

  1. The old church is reflected in the glass exterior of the skyscraper.

  2. Her book clearly reflects her beliefs.

  3. Where you learned a language is reflected in your accent.

Recent Examples of reflect from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of reflect

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

REFLECT Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of reflect for English Language Learners

  • 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

REFLECT Defined for Kids


verb re·flect \ ri-ˈflekt \

Definition of reflect for Students

reflected; reflecting
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.

Word Root of reflect

The Latin word flectere, meaning “to bend” or “to curve,” and its form flexus give us the roots flect and flex. Words from the Latin flectere have something to do with bending or curving. To flex is to cause something, such as a muscle, to curve or bend. Something flexible can be bent without breaking. To deflect, or turn aside, is to bend the direction of something. To reflect is to bend an image back to the person looking at a mirror or other shiny surface.

Medical Dictionary


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

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to beat or defeat soundly

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