Definition of inflection in US English:


(British inflexion)


  • 1Grammar
    A change in the form of a word (typically the ending) to express a grammatical function or attribute such as tense, mood, person, number, case, and gender.

    • ‘A set of verb forms or inflections used to indicate the speaker's attitude toward the factuality or likelihood of the action or condition expressed.’
    • ‘In many hymns (but not all) we have substituted second person plural pronouns and verbal inflections for second person singular ones, but only where this leaves the poetic and rhyming schemes of the hymns unaltered.’
    • ‘There are also inflections marking gender, number, and tense.’
    • ‘To learn the languages with inversions, it is enough to know the words and their inflections; to learn the French language, we must also retain the word order.’
    • ‘There are inflexions for number and tense, the vocabulary is Latin or Germanic for the most part, with all the baggage those words bring with them.’
    conjugation, declension
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    1. 1.1 The process or practice of inflecting words.
      • ‘In sentences, inflection for case allows a certain freedom of word order, more or less as in Latin.’
      • ‘But what we do in English is shift the subordinate clause verb into preterite inflection (had blue eyes instead of has blue eyes) as if to respect the choice of tense in the main clause.’
      • ‘Spanish uses word order, rather than noun and pronoun inflection, to encode meaning.’
      • ‘The fluidity of Polish syntax, due to inflection, makes possible a highly complex structure which, some Polish critics suspect, prevented Sep from attaining a wide readership in his time: he was too difficult.’
      • ‘One can add inflection to specific words to make the final sentence sound more natural.’
  • 2The modulation of intonation or pitch in the voice.

    ‘she spoke slowly and without inflection’
    ‘the variety of his vocal inflections’
    • ‘One thing hits you quickly: the voice acting is horrendous; the characters seemingly have no voice inflection, which leads to a monotonous game.’
    • ‘The missing link is the prosody, the patterns of stress, inflection, and intonation in a language.’
    • ‘Of these, there are two: the rising inflection and falling inflection.’
    • ‘Through a blend of facial expression, voice inflection, and halting speech, Hagman handles it with authority and believability.’
    • ‘While Caan does a fairly credible job with the accent, voice inflection, and mannerisms, I had a difficult time with his being cast in this role.’
    • ‘If you see him live, every word, every inflection, every facial expression, is perfect.’
    • ‘The mocking inflexion in Lonnie's voice reminded Loren chillingly of someone else.’
    • ‘In such services, both the minister and the congregation routinely use voice rhythm and vocal inflection to convey meaning.’
    • ‘Thirty seconds later, I told him I was ‘in trouble’ and needed to get down (with a lot more inflection in my voice than I can write here).’
    • ‘There was no inflection in her voice, and no particular emphasis on the title, but I marked the familiar way he addressed her and the formal manner in which she responded.’
    • ‘On the other hand, they were superb ‘readers’ of voices, intonation, inflection, fear, evasion, demand.’
    • ‘Katherine spoke softly, sometimes hesitantly and sometimes in a rush, with a great deal more emotional inflection than the voice she uses when acting the cool professional.’
    • ‘Good listening habits involve not only hearing what someone says, but being sensitive to such nonverbal clues as voice inflection, facial expressions, and gestures.’
    • ‘There was absolutely no inflection in his voice.’
    • ‘Sometimes, I hate the lack of inflection in the written word.’
    • ‘Radio counts on voice inflection and an interesting speaker’
    • ‘Furthermore, appealing to the use of a word may capture its direct meaning but leave untouched meanings that manifest themselves in the tone or inflection with which the word is used.’
    • ‘The written interview misses the slow rhythm of Brian's voice and emotional inflection - it is a long read but hopefully worth it…’
    • ‘There is a decided effort and highly noticeable inflection in the words you speak.’
    • ‘There was no inflection to her voice as she concluded, ‘You just wait.’’
    stress, cadence, rhythm, accentuation, intonation, emphasis, modulation, metre, measure, rise and fall, swing, lilt, beat, change of pitch, change of tone, change of timbre
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    1. 2.1 The variation of the pitch of a musical note.
      • ‘But he seemed ill at ease in Liszt's flamboyant Spanish Rhapsody, which in his hands wanted for inflection, contrast and affective intensity.’
      • ‘In the second period, Balada's music was very abstract and dramatic, without melodic inflection and with a heavy reliance on avant-garde effects.’
      • ‘A flat, natural, or sharp sign can be placed above it, to indicate a chromatic inflection of the upper note.’
      • ‘The opening is played ‘okay’ but it has no accent, no inflection.’
      • ‘The second line became one of the most distinctive features of all New Orleans brass band parades and even of the music itself as the extra musical inflection became an intrinsic element of the Crescent City sound.’
  • 3Mathematics
    A change of curvature from convex to concave at a particular point on a curve.

    • ‘The thresholds for low and high CRI are located at the inflexion points of the curve, embracing about 80% of the genes.’
    • ‘The coordinates of the inflection point for each curve are indicated by the horizontal and vertical lines.’
    • ‘With the parameters we use, this hysteresis covers a rather small range of velocities and only results in a small inflexion in the force-velocity curve.’
    • ‘But like the point of inflection on a line graph, the first species in any new lineage is only readily apparent after the fact.’
    • ‘However, the optimal cluster size depended on the point of inflection of the curve describing the relationship between female mating bias and cluster size.’
    curving, curvature, bending, turning
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Late Middle English (in the sense ‘the action of bending inwards’): from Latin inflexio(n-), from the verb inflectere ‘bend in, curve’ (see inflect).