Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The turning or bending of any wave, such as a light or sound wave, when it passes from one medium into another of different optical density.
  • n. Astronomy The apparent change in position of celestial objects caused by the bending of light rays entering Earth's atmosphere.
  • n. Medicine The ability of the eye to bend light so that an image is focused on the retina.
  • n. Medicine Determination of the refractive characteristics of the eye.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The turning or bending of any wave, such as a light or sound wave, when it passes from one medium into another of different optical density.
  • n. The degree to which a metal or compound can withstand heat

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n.
  • n. The act of refracting, or the state of being refracted.
  • n. The change in the direction of ray of light, heat, or the like, when it enters obliquely a medium of a different density from that through which it has previously moved.
  • n.
  • n. The change in the direction of a ray of light, and, consequently, in the apparent position of a heavenly body from which it emanates, arising from its passage through the earth's atmosphere; -- hence distinguished as atmospheric refraction, or astronomical refraction.
  • n. The correction which is to be deducted from the apparent altitude of a heavenly body on account of atmospheric refraction, in order to obtain the true altitude.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The act of refracting, or the state of being refracted: almost exclusively restricted to physics, and applied to a deflection or change of direction of rays, as of light, heat, or sound, which are obliquely incident upon and pass through a smooth surface bounding two media not homogeneous, as air and water, or of rays which traverse a medium the density of which is not uniform, as the atmosphere.
  • n. In logic, the relation of the Theophrastian moods to the direct moods of the first figure.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the change in direction of a propagating wave (light or sound) when passing from one medium to another
  • n. the amount by which a propagating wave is bent

Etymologies

refract +‎ -ion (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • "I did not leave untried," says he, "whether, by assuming a horizontal refraction according to the density of the medium, the rest would correspond to the sines of the distances from a vertical direction, but calculation proved that it was not so: and, indeed, there was no occasion to have tried it, for thus the _refraction would increase according to the same law in all mediums, which is contradicted by experiment_."

    The Martyrs of Science, or, The lives of Galileo, Tycho Brahe, and Kepler

  • The offside lamp pointing forward should be covered with a handkerchief, to diffuse the light and cause less refraction from the fog in front.

    To Drive a Motorcar | Edwardian Promenade

  • Any gas would work, although helium's index of refraction is extremely low.

    Why the Moon? Here's Why. - NASA Watch

  • Yes, that's refraction from the top of the protective glass.

    Archive 2007-03-01

  • This phenomenon, called refraction, is readily observable when a straw placed into a glass of water appears to be bent or broken.

    Semiconductor Structure Bends Light ‘Wrong’ Way | Impact Lab

  • Macquer and Lavoisier noted other problems underlying de la Follie's efforts to join colors of light with colors of objects — his description of angles of refraction, for example, and his belief that coloration was due to light refraction from the many small prisms that cover the surface of bodies.

    The Creation of Color in Eighteenth-Century Europe

  • What was called refraction seismology was introduced into the U.S. oil industry about 1923–24, initially by a German company.

    The Prize

  • It shows us that the power of refraction is not one of those properties of matter which are completely transformed by the action of chemical combination.

    Hendrik A. Lorentz - Nobel Lecture

  • There is the characteristic state of mind which might be called the refraction of an idea by the presence of another idea.

    Criminal Psychology: a manual for judges, practitioners, and students

  • A ray of light failing perpendicularly through the air upon a surface of glass or water passes on in a straight line through the body; but if it, in passing from one medium to another of different density, fall obliquely, it is bent from its direct course and recedes from it, either towards the right or left, and this bending is called refraction; (see Fig. 3, b.)

    History and Practice of the Art of Photography

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