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.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    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.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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).