Word of the Day


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1. an image that you see when you look in a mirror or other shiny surface

2. careful thought about something

Origin and usage

The noun reflection comes from an Old French word, ‘reflexion’ or from the late Latin ‘reflexio’, which comes from the Latin reflex-, meaning ‘bent back’, from the verb ‘reflectere’. It was first used in English at the end of the 14th century, slightly earlier than the verb ‘reflect’ to which it is related.


Reflection has two main meanings. The first refers to what you see when you look in a mirror or other shiny surface. The second, which started to be used in English at exactly the same time, refers to the process of thinking carefully about something, especially in order to decide what to do. The phrase on or upon reflection is used to introduce the outcome of this careful thought. It is often used to show that you have changed your mind about something, as in the Macmillan Dictionary example: At the time I thought I was right, but on reflection I think perhaps I wasn’t.


“The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection.”
(Thomas Paine)
“The world is a looking glass and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face.”
(William Makepeace Thackeray)

Related words

thought, consideration, soul-searching

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

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Macmillan Dictionary

Macmillan Dictionary

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