re·​flec·​tion | \ri-ˈflek-shən \

Definition of reflection 

1 : an instance of reflecting especially : the return of light or sound waves from a surface

2 : the production of an image by or as if by a mirror

3a : the action of bending or folding back

b : a reflected part : fold

4 : something produced by reflecting: such as

a : an image given back by a reflecting surface

b : an effect produced by an influence the high crime rate is a reflection of our violent society

5 : an often obscure or indirect criticism : reproach a reflection on his character

6 : a thought, idea, or opinion formed or a remark made as a result of meditation

7 : consideration of some subject matter, idea, or purpose

8 obsolete : turning back : return

9a : a transformation of a figure in which each point is replaced by a point symmetric with respect to a line or plane

b : a transformation that involves reflection in more than one axis of a rectangular coordinate system

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Other Words from reflection

reflectional \ri-​ˈflek-​shnəl, -​shə-​nᵊl \ adjective

Synonyms for reflection


comment, note, remark

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Examples of reflection in a Sentence

She was looking at her reflection in the mirror. He saw the reflections of the clouds on the lake.

Recent Examples on the Web

Or an act of rebellion?—nudges both readers and characters towards the beginnings of self-reflection and complicated kinds of learning. Constance Grady, Vox, "Reading Roald Dahl’s Matilda as a queer classic," 6 Oct. 2018 Ray tracing is a rendering technique used by movie studios to generate light reflections and cinematic effects. Tom Warren, The Verge, "Nvidia rethinks the graphics card with the RTX 2080," 14 Sep. 2018 Another is the posterior cingulate cortex, which Vago says is thought to play a critical role in self-reflection and rumination. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "What Meditation Can—and Can’t—Do for Your Health," 11 Sep. 2018 The combination of maintained land and untamed wilderness is pivotal to all that deep reflection and navel-gazing college students are so good at. Condé Nast Traveler, "The 50 Most Beautiful College Campuses in America," 6 Aug. 2018 Earlier this week, head coach Alan Koch said the team was virtually at the 2018 midpoint, which allows reflection and preparation to carry out the season. Charlie Hatch,, "FC Cincinnati winger position battle among most fierce for USL minutes and MLS hopes," 20 June 2018 Those long walks and hours pursuing hobbies breed deep reflection and creativity. Clive Thompson, WIRED, "Why You Should Slack Off to Get Some Work Done," 16 June 2018 The national holiday provides an opportunity for reflection and solemn remembrance. Arthur I. Cyr, Lake County News-Sun, "Cyr: The essence of Memorial Day," 1 June 2018 Muslims around the world observe Ramadan, a month of fasting, reflection, and prayer. Dennis Hohenberger, Courant Community, "Sisterhood Of Salaam Shalom Brings Together Faiths," 29 May 2018

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for reflection

Middle English, alteration of reflexion, from Late Latin reflexion-, reflexio act of bending back, from Latin reflectere

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Last Updated

12 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for reflection

The first known use of reflection was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for reflection



English Language Learners Definition of reflection

: an image that is seen in a mirror or on a shiny surface

: something that shows the effect, existence, or character of something else

: something that causes people to disapprove of a person or thing


re·​flec·​tion | \ri-ˈflek-shən \

Kids Definition of reflection

1 : the return of light or sound waves from a surface

2 : an image produced by or as if by a mirror

3 : something that brings blame or disgrace It's a reflection on my honesty.

4 : careful thought After much reflection, I agreed.

5 : an opinion formed or a remark made after careful thought


variants: also British reflexion \ri-​ˈflek-​shən \

Medical Definition of reflection 

1 : an instance of reflecting especially : the return of light or sound waves from a surface

2 : the production of an image by or as if by a mirror

3a : the action of bending or folding back

b : a reflected part or a fold the mesentery is a reflection of the peritoneum

4 : something produced by reflecting especially : an image given back by a reflecting surface

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Comments on reflection

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


a soft lustrous wool fabric with mohair

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