reflexive

Something reflexive is completely involuntary. You can't help it. You might give a reflexive scream of fright if a bat flies in your face.

The adjective reflexive has two very different meanings. Something that's done automatically, without thought, is reflexive. Things that refer to themselves can also be called reflexive, especially certain parts of grammar, as in this sentence: "I took extra time to prepare myself for the test." Because myself refers back to I, it's a reflexive pronoun. There's even a reflexive genre of writing, metafiction, which can be described as "fiction about fiction."

Definitions of reflexive
  1. adjective
    referring back to itself
    synonyms: self-referent
    backward
    directed or facing toward the back or rear
  2. noun
    a personal pronoun compounded with -self to show the agent's action affects the agent
    synonyms: reflexive pronoun
    see moresee less
    type of:
    personal pronoun
    a pronoun expressing a distinction of person
  3. adjective
    without volition or conscious control
    “sneezing is reflexive
    synonyms: automatic, reflex
    involuntary
    controlled by the autonomic nervous system; without conscious control
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