reflection

Your reflection is what you see in the mirror. Other things that bounce back at you are also reflections — light waves, sound waves, even your thoughts.

Reflection comes from the Latin reflectere, made up of the prefix re-, "back," and flectere, "to bend." So it's bending something back: your reflection in the mirror is the light waves that bounce your image back at you. When you pause for reflection — serious thinking, that is — your thoughts are bending inward. Reflection can also be a consequence of something: the way your dog mopes around when you're away is a reflection of how much he misses you.

Primary Meanings of reflection

1.
n
the phenomenon of a propagating wave (light or sound) being thrown back from a surface
2.
n
a calm, lengthy, intent consideration
3.
n
expression without words
4.
n
(mathematics) a transformation in which the direction of one axis is reversed
Full Definitions of reflection
1

n the phenomenon of a propagating wave (light or sound) being thrown back from a surface

Synonyms:
reflexion
Types:
show 4 types...
hide 4 types...
flare
am unwanted reflection in an optical system (or the fogging of an image that is caused by such a reflection)
interreflection
reciprocal reflection between two reflecting surfaces
virtual image
a reflected optical image (as seen in a plane mirror)
zodiacal light
a luminous tract in the sky; a reflection of sunlight from cosmic dust in the plane of the ecliptic; visible just before sunrise and just after sunset
Type of:
physical phenomenon
a natural phenomenon involving the physical properties of matter and energy

n the image of something as reflected by a mirror (or other reflective material)

“he studied his reflection in the mirror”
Synonyms:
reflexion
Type of:
icon, ikon, image, picture
a visual representation (of an object or scene or person or abstraction) produced on a surface

n a likeness in which left and right are reversed

Synonyms:
mirror image, reflexion
Type of:
alikeness, likeness, similitude
similarity in appearance or character or nature between persons or things

n the ability to reflect beams or rays

Synonyms:
reflectivity, reflexion
Types:
echo, replication, reverberation, sound reflection
the repetition of a sound resulting from reflection of the sound waves
echo
a reflected television or radio or radar beam
re-echo
the echo of an echo
Type of:
physical property
any property used to characterize matter and energy and their interactions
2

n a calm, lengthy, intent consideration

Synonyms:
contemplation, musing, reflexion, rumination, thoughtfulness
Types:
show 8 types...
hide 8 types...
cogitation, study
attentive consideration and meditation
meditation, speculation
continuous and profound contemplation or musing on a subject or series of subjects of a deep or abstruse nature
meditation
(religion) contemplation of spiritual matters (usually on religious or philosophical subjects)
introspection, self-contemplation, self-examination
the contemplation of your own thoughts and desires and conduct
retrospect
contemplation of things past
lucubration
laborious cogitation
self-analysis, soul-searching
a penetrating examination of your own beliefs and motives
examen, examination
a detailed inspection of your conscience (as done daily by Jesuits)
Type of:
consideration
the process of giving careful thought to something

n a remark expressing careful consideration

Synonyms:
observation, reflexion
Examples:
Parkinson's law
C. Northcote Parkinson's cynical observation that the number of subordinates in an organization will increase linearly regardless of the amount of work to be done
Parkinson's law
C. Northcote Parkinson's cynical observation that work will expand so as to fill the time available for its completion
Type of:
comment, input, remark
a statement that expresses a personal opinion or belief or adds information
3

n expression without words

“the pulse is a reflection of the heart's condition”
Synonyms:
expression, manifestation, reflexion
Types:
show 7 types...
hide 7 types...
lamentation, mourning
the passionate and demonstrative activity of expressing grief
act
a manifestation of insincerity
blowup, ebullition, effusion, gush, outburst
an unrestrained expression of emotion
acting out
a (usually irritating) impulsive and uncontrollable outburst by a problem child or a neurotic adult
cry
a fit of weeping
explosion
a sudden outburst
flare
a sudden outburst of emotion
Type of:
demo, demonstration
a visual presentation showing how something works
4

n (mathematics) a transformation in which the direction of one axis is reversed

Type of:
transformation
(mathematics) a function that changes the position or direction of the axes of a coordinate system

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.