reflexive

1 of 2

adjective

re·​flex·​ive ri-ˈflek-siv How to pronounce reflexive (audio)
1
a
: directed or turned back on itself
also : overtly and usually ironically reflecting conventions of genre or form
a reflexive novel
b
: marked by or capable of reflection : reflective
2
: of, relating to, characterized by, or being a relation that exists between an entity and itself
the relation "is equal to" is reflexive but the relation "is the father of" is not
3
: of, relating to, or constituting an action (as in "he perjured himself") directed back on the agent or the grammatical subject
4
: characterized by habitual and unthinking behavior
reflexively adverb
reflexiveness noun
reflexivity noun

reflexive

2 of 2

noun

Examples of reflexive in a Sentence

Adjective In “I hurt myself,” the verb “hurt” is reflexive. In the sentence “We forced ourselves to finish the assignment,” the word “ourselves” is a reflexive pronoun. For many people, the reflexive response to this kind of demand is to say no. music that triggers reflexive toe tapping
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
Even the most agnostic brains will make quiet and reflexive supplication for protection before crossing a bridge as dramatic as the one that collapsed this week. Philip Kennicott, Washington Post, 27 Mar. 2024 In the early self-interviews and writings, Mr. Samaras returned frequently to the question of how his reflexive isolation and solipsism could function alongside his equally instinctual exhibitionism and visual extroversion. Randy Kennedy, New York Times, 7 Mar. 2024 But over the last two years, family groups have challenged its reflexive use. Jan Hoffman, New York Times, 11 Mar. 2024 The heroic, standalone qualities of Ibsen’s protagonist earn our respect but not our reflexive loyalty. Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times, 12 Mar. 2024 Including a human factor in review and audit processes adds a layer of critical thinking that makes monitoring for inaccuracies or biases reflexive and consistent. Andrew Duncan, Forbes, 20 Feb. 2024 In January 1945, Arthur H. Vandenberg, R-Mich., gave a landmark Senate speech now remembered as the moment when his party finally began to put its reflexive isolationism behind it. Bret Stephens, The Mercury News, 17 Feb. 2024 Today there is a reflexive tendency to think of literature, and also other forms of culture, as an extra, as an ornament, as icing on the cake, as something that is expendable and unnecessary. Merve Emre, The New York Review of Books, 13 Feb. 2024 The industry’s reflexive defensiveness is a product of years of conflict with animal rights activists and a bitter us-vs-them dynamic that often stands in the way of honest and productive discussion about the field and its problems. Erika Fry, Fortune, 27 Jan. 2024
Noun
Andrew Bevel’s motivation for publishing a memoir goes beyond that reflexive droit du seigneur Ida describes. Jonathan Dee, Harper's Magazine, 11 May 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'reflexive.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

Medieval Latin reflexivus, from Latin reflexus

First Known Use

Adjective

1615, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

Noun

1866, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of reflexive was in 1615

Dictionary Entries Near reflexive

Cite this Entry

“Reflexive.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/reflexive. Accessed 12 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

reflexive

1 of 2 adjective
re·​flex·​ive ri-ˈflek-siv How to pronounce reflexive (audio)
1
: turned back upon itself
2
: of, relating to, or being an action directed back upon the doer or the grammatical subject
3
: of, relating to, or being a relation which exists between a thing and itself
the relation of equality or "is equal to" is reflexive but the relation "is the parent of" is not
4
: characterized by behavior that occurs automatically without thinking
a reflexive response
reflexively adverb

reflexive

2 of 2 noun
: a pronoun that refers to the grammatical subject and is the object of the verb
in the sentence "We forced ourselves to finish the assignment," the word "ourselves" is a reflexive

Medical Definition

reflexive

adjective
re·​flex·​ive ri-ˈflek-siv How to pronounce reflexive (audio)
: characterized by habitual and unthinking behavior
also : relating to or consisting of a reflex

More from Merriam-Webster on reflexive

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