Definition of refraction in English:



mass nounPhysics
  • 1The fact or phenomenon of light, radio waves, etc. being deflected in passing obliquely through the interface between one medium and another or through a medium of varying density.

    • ‘This volume contains a study of pressure and density, astronomical refraction, barometric pressure and the transmission of gravity based on this new philosophy of physics.’
    • ‘Although it has long been known that a rainbow is produced by the dispersion of white light through rain droplets via refraction, there is far more to this optical phenomenon than first meets the eye.’
    • ‘Central to the concept of a perfect lens is the phenomenon called refraction, which occurs when electromagnetic waves, including light, bend slightly when passing from one material into another.’
    • ‘The Shield utilises these same principles of refraction to deflect the electromagnetic radiation waves that emanate from even the ‘safe’ monitors.’
    • ‘The disagreement concerns one of the most fundamental and best-known phenomena in optics - refraction.’
    1. 1.1 Change in direction of propagation of any wave as a result of its travelling at different speeds at different points along the wave front.
      • ‘He produced several other papers on light, the most important being in 1839 when he applied methods used by Green to study reflection and refraction of waves at a surface.’
      • ‘But perhaps the most immediately accessible phenomenon from an experimental or computational point of view is the reversal of wave refraction, illustrated in figure 2.’
      • ‘Because of the effect of wave refraction, the plan shape of crenulated coasts can attain an equilibrium state.’
      • ‘What may be the most impressive adaptation of archerfish is their ability to learn to overcome the physics of the refraction of light passing from air into water.’
      • ‘The first is a different refraction for the two polarization components at the lens surfaces, which causes a ray bifurcation at each lens.’
    2. 1.2 Measurement of the focusing characteristics of an eye or eyes.


Mid 17th century: from late Latin refractio(n-), from refringere ‘break up’ (see refract).