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

And sparkling crystal was used to refract light around the rooms. Ingela Ratledge Amundson, WSJ, "12 TV Series Whose Sets Will Intoxicate Design-Minded People," 21 June 2019 The jewel tones of these lamps (cranberry, amber and midnight blue, azure) become even more spectacular when light is refracted by the glass. Elizabeth Gulino, House Beautiful, "Keep an Eye Out for Orrefors Crystal Lamps Whenever You Go Antiquing," 3 May 2019 There are salads and rice bowls refracted through Fire & Spice's border-town thing too. Matt Wake |, al, "A Huntsville taco that puts The South in your mouth," 16 Sep. 2019 As sunlight passes through the Earth’s atmosphere, it’s refracted, or bent, a little. Weldon B. Johnson, azcentral, "Autumn equinox 2018: When is it, what is it and can you really stand an egg on its end?," 16 Mar. 2018 The finding was picked up by major media outlets and rebounded across the internet, refracted through different political lenses. Juanita Bawagan, Science | AAAS, "Study that claims white police no more likely to shoot minorities draws fire," 15 Aug. 2019 During those times, sunlight has to travel through a thicker part of the atmosphere, which only lets longer red wavelengths from the rainbow's color spectrum to be refracted. Aj Willingham, CNN, "A cat dad, a warrior mom and a pink rainbow!," 29 June 2019 All living organisms have what are known as chiral molecules, which can reflect, refract, or diffract light. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Alien Plant Hunter Taking First Steps on Earth. Next Stop: Jupiter," 22 Aug. 2019 The show features 25 pieces (mostly from the ‘60s) by the Los Angeles light and space artist, known for canvases that refract light and toy with a viewer’s sense of perception. Los Angeles Times, "Newsletter: Essential Arts: Fury after mass shootings felt in Mozart’s Requiem at the Bowl," 10 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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Statistics for refract

Last Updated

10 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for refract

The first known use of refract was in 1612

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More Definitions for refract



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.


transitive verb
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)

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More from Merriam-Webster on refract

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with refract

Spanish Central: Translation of refract

Nglish: Translation of refract for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of refract for Arabic Speakers

Comments on refract

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to be made up of

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