General Science


  • verb to throw back something such as radio waves or light


  • To bounce off or otherwise throw back from a surface, object, or region. For example, to reflect an image off a mirror, or to bounce sound energy off a wall.

Media Studies

  • verb to redirect something that strikes a surface, especially light, sound, or heat, usually back towards its point of origin
  • verb to show a reverse image of somebody or something on a mirror or other reflective surface


  • verb to send something such as heat, light, sound or radar waves back towards its source

Origin & History of “reflect”

To reflect something is etymologically to ‘bend it back’. The word comes via Old French reflecter from Latin reflectere ‘bend back’, a compound verb formed from the prefix re- ‘back’ and flectere ‘bend’ (source also of English deflect (17th c.), flex (16th c.), flexible (15th c.), inflect (15th c.), etc). The word’s optical application is a post-Latin development.