Word of the Day


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an object that reflects light and shines when light shines onto it

Origin and usage

The word reflector comes from the Latin word ‘reflectere’ meaning ‘turn back’. It dates back to the 1660s in English, though it didn’t become associated with vehicles until the early 20th century, sometime around 1909.


Reflector refers to an object, usually made of plastic, that appears to glow or shine when light reaches it. Reflectors are most frequently found on bicycles and products associated with safety for drivers or pedestrians.

The plastic reflectors attached to the spokes of a bicycle wheel provide safety and increase visibility for riders to travel at night. When a car approaches the bicycle in the dark, its headlights shine on the plastic reflector and reflect the light back, making the reflector look like it’s glowing. This helps drivers see bicycle riders more easily and helps prevent accidents.

Sometimes, joggers or walkers wear special clothing with reflector tape so they can be seen more easily in the dark. Like plastic reflectors, this tape reflects the light and appears to glow when it is exposed to car headlights or street lamps. Road workers also wear safety clothing and use equipment like cones or road blocks with reflectors on them in order to improve their visibility when working at night.

Safety reflectors can be purchased in a variety of stores and websites online, making it easy for pedestrians, cyclists, road workers and others to increase their visibility in the dark and keep themselves safe.

Reflectors come in a variety of colours, including yellow, orange, red and white. The reflectors on tape or clothing items usually look silver in the light but glow bright white when reflecting light in the dark.

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

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