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From Old French reflecter (to bend back, turn back), from Latin reflectō (I reflect), from re- (again) + flectō (I bend, I curve).


  • IPA(key): /ɹɪˈflɛkt/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛkt


reflect (third-person singular simple present reflects, present participle reflecting, simple past and past participle reflected)

  1. (transitive) To bend back (light, etc.) from a surface.
    A mirror reflects the light that shines on it.
  2. (intransitive) To be bent back (light, etc.) from a surface.
    The moonlight reflected from the surface of water.
  3. (transitive) To mirror, or show the image of something.
    The shop window reflected his image as he walked past.
  4. (intransitive) To be mirrored.
    His image reflected from the shop window as he walked past.
  5. (transitive) To agree with; to closely follow.
    Entries in English dictionaries aim to reflect common usage.
  6. (transitive) To give evidence of someone's or something's character etc.
    The team's victory reflects the Captain's abilities.
    The teacher's ability reflects well on the school.
    • 1946 July and August, Cecil J. Allen, “British Locomotive Practice and Performance”, in Railway Magazine, page 213:
      The admirable smoothness of the riding also reflected the greatest credit on those who, despite the difficulties caused by the shortage of men and materials, have succeeded in maintaining the track in such first-class order.
    • 1992, Rudolf M[athias] Schuster, The Hepaticae and Anthocerotae of North America: East of the Hundredth Meridian, volume V, New York, N.Y.: Columbia University Press, →ISBN, page vii:
      With fresh material, taxonomic conclusions are leavened by recognition that the material examined reflects the site it occupied; a herbarium packet gives one only a small fraction of the data desirable for sound conclusions. Herbarium material does not, indeed, allow one to extrapolate safely: what you see is what you get []
  7. (intransitive) To think seriously; to ponder or consider.
    People do that sort of thing every day, without ever stopping to reflect on the consequences.
    • 1939 September, D. S. Barrie, “The Railways of South Wales”, in Railway Magazine, page 165:
      Standing on the mountain above Caerphilly, one may reflect upon the gap where once stood Llanbradach Viaduct, and look near at hand upon the restored ruins of Caerphilly Castle; man labours to rebuild the mediaeval whilst he ruthlessly scraps the modern.
    • 1985, Justin Richards, Option Lock, page 229:
      Not for the first time, he reflected that it was not so much the speeches that strained the nerves as the palaver that went with them.
    • 2022 November 30, Paul Bigland, “Destination Oban: a Sunday in Scotland”, in RAIL, number 971, page 79:
      Sitting on the dockside at Oban, watching the to-ing and fro-ing in the harbour on a perfect summer's eve, I reflect on a trip which has taken me through our busiest cities to traverse the country's main lines, as well as explore some of the furthest extremities that were literally out on a limb.


Derived terms[edit]


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