re·​fract | \ ri-ˈfrakt How to pronounce refract (audio) \
refracted; refracting; refracts

Definition of refract

transitive verb

1a : to subject (something, such as a ray of light) to refraction
b : to alter or distort as if by refraction to refract that familiar world through the mind and heart of a romantic … woman— Anton Myrer
2 : to determine the refracting power of

Examples of refract in a Sentence

Light is refracted when it hits water.
Recent Examples on the Web Structural color, however, comes from microscopic structures whose varying shapes reflect or refract light in different ways. Meg Wilcox, Scientific American, "A Butterfly’s Brilliant Blue Wings Lead to Less Toxic Paint," 13 Nov. 2020 Inside the box, a thin sheet of light forced the laser to change directions, or refract. Popular Science, "Does your favorite mask actually work? Researchers now have a way to tell.," 11 Aug. 2020 When the dust and sea salt particles get into the sky above Ohio, there could be spectacular sunrises and sunsets, as the particles reflect and refract sunlight on the horizon. Robin Goist, cleveland, "Storm chances continue as Saharan dust blows into region: Northeast Ohio’s weekend weather forecast," 25 June 2020 There was something crucial here, but the crucial information darted away, refracting and escaping in the pleasant morning light. Hilary Leichter, Harper's Magazine, "Terrace Story," 25 May 2020 Like virtually every aspect of human existence now, Richard Penniman’s funeral has been refracted by coronavirus. Matt Wake |, al, "Little Richard’s deep, slightly complicated Alabama roots," 20 May 2020 Life during the pandemic gets refracted again and again through our phone’s cameras. Clay Chandler, Fortune, "Big Tech’s coronavirus “contact tracing” apps will only work if users buy in," 14 Apr. 2020 The Fold display looked kinda foggy, dull, and washed out thanks, in part, to the flexible plastic refracting some of the light from the panel. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, "Samsung Galaxy Z Flip review—I think I hate flip phones," 28 Feb. 2020 There’s a luminous little abstract work — artistic ground upon which Georgia herself never trod — composed of a medley of angles and curves refracting color across the surface. Globe Staff,, "Georgia O’Keeffe’s forgotten sister, and a glimpse of what might have been," 1 Aug. 2019

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

1612, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for refract

Latin refractus, past participle of refringere to break open, break up, from re- + frangere to break — more at break

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Time Traveler for refract

Time Traveler

The first known use of refract was in 1612

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Statistics for refract

Last Updated

26 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Refract.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Dec. 2020.

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More Definitions for refract


How to pronounce refract (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of refract

technical, of an object or substance : to make (light) change direction when it goes through at an angle


re·​fract | \ ri-ˈfrakt How to pronounce refract (audio) \
refracted; refracting

Kids Definition of refract

: to make (light) bend when it passes through at an angle Prisms refract light.
re·​fract | \ ri-ˈfrakt How to pronounce refract (audio) \

Medical Definition of refract

1 : to subject (as a ray of light) to refraction
2 : to determine the refracting power of or abnormality of refraction in (as an eye or a lens)

More from Merriam-Webster on refract

Nglish: Translation of refract for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of refract for Arabic Speakers

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