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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ Dominic used to be a master of inflection.
▪ He spoke slowly and without inflection.
▪ My voice, my tone, my inflection, everything.
▪ Other verbs incorporate size into movement and provide additional meaning by their inflection.
▪ The audience sits mesmerised by his expressive choreography, watching each inflection of the hand or eyebrow.
▪ There was no bliss in his inflection.
▪ This sounds like one of his more severe remarks, although perhaps an ironical inflection has not survived its reporting.
▪ We have just hit the inflection point.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Inflection \In*flec"tion\, n. [L. inflexio : cf. F. inflexion. See Inflect.] [Written also inflecxion.]

  1. The act of inflecting, or the state of being inflected.

  2. A bend; a fold; a curve; a turn; a twist.

  3. A slide, modulation, or accent of the voice; as, the rising and the falling inflection.

  4. (Gram.) The variation or change which words undergo to mark case, gender, number, comparison, tense, person, mood, voice, etc.

  5. (Mus.)

    1. Any change or modification in the pitch or tone of the voice.

    2. A departure from the monotone, or reciting note, in chanting.

  6. (Opt.) Same as Diffraction.

    Point of inflection (Geom.), the point on opposite sides of which a curve bends in contrary ways.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

early 15c., from Middle French inflexion and directly from Latin inflexionem (nominative inflexio) "a bending, inflection, modification," noun of action from past participle stem of inflectere (see inflect). For spelling, see connection. Grammatical sense is from 1660s.


n. 1 (context grammar English) A change in the form of a word that reflects a change in grammatical function. 2 A change in pitch or tone of voice. 3 (context mathematics English) A change in curvature from concave to convex or from convex to concave. 4 A turning away from a straight course. 5 (context optometry English) diffraction

  1. n. a change in the form of a word (usually by adding a suffix) to indicate a change in its grammatical function [syn: inflexion]

  2. the patterns of stress and intonation in a language [syn: prosody]

  3. deviation from a straight or normal course [syn: flection, flexion]

  4. a manner of speaking in which the loudness or pitch or tone of the voice is modified [syn: modulation]

Inflection (disambiguation)

Inflection (or inflexion), in linguistics, is a grammatical change of word form.

The terms may also refer to:

  • Inflection of the voice; see Intonation (linguistics)
  • Inflection point, in mathematics
  • Chromatic inflection, in music
  • Accidental (music)

In grammar, inflection or inflexion is the modification of a word to express different grammatical categories such as tense, case, voice, aspect, person, number, gender, and mood. The inflection of verbs is also called conjugation, and one can refer to the inflection of nouns, adjectives and pronouns as declension.

An inflection expresses one or more grammatical categories with a prefix, suffix or infix, or another internal modification such as a vowel change. For example, the Latin verb ducam, meaning "I will lead", includes the suffix -am, expressing person (first), number (singular), and tense (future). The use of this suffix is an inflection. In contrast, in the English clause "I will lead", the word lead is not inflected for any of person, number, or tense; it is simply the bare form of a verb.

The inflected form of a word often contains both one or more free morphemes (a unit of meaning which can stand by itself as a word), and one or more bound morphemes (a unit of meaning which cannot stand alone as a word). For example, the English word cars is a noun that is inflected for number, specifically to express the plural; the content morpheme car is unbound because it could stand alone as a word, while the suffix -s is bound because it cannot stand alone as a word. These two morphemes together form the inflected word cars.

Words that are never subject to inflection are said to be invariant; for example, the English verb must is an invariant item: it never takes a suffix or changes form to signify a different grammatical category. Its categories can be determined only from its context.

Requiring the forms or inflections of more than one word in a sentence to be compatible with each other according to the rules of the language is known as concord or agreement. For example, in "the choir sings", "choir" is a singular noun, so "sing" is constrained in the present tense to use the third person singular suffix "s".

Languages that have some degree of inflection are synthetic languages. These can be highly inflected (such as Latin, Greek, Spanish, Biblical Hebrew, and Sanskrit), or weakly inflected (such as English). Languages that are so inflected that a sentence can consist of a single highly inflected word (such as many American Indian languages) are called polysynthetic languages. Languages in which each inflection conveys only a single grammatical category, such as Finnish, are known as agglutinative languages, while languages in which a single inflection can convey multiple grammatical roles (such as both nominative case and plural, as in Latin and German) are called fusional. Languages such as Mandarin Chinese that never use inflections are called analytic or isolating.

Usage examples of "inflection".

This result is analogous to that which follows from the immersion of leaves in a strong solution of one part of the carbonate to 109, or 146, or even 218 of water, for the leaves are then paralysed and no inflection ensues, though the glands are blackened, and the protoplasm in the cells of the tentacles undergoes strong aggregation.

We shall hereafter see that solutions of these substances, when placed on the discs of leaves, do not incite inflection.

But inflections of the voice did most of the work--this, with flashes of brown and blue lights, conveyed the swift despatches.

The inflection of her voice added that as far as she was concerned, the American was a tobacco-chewing flatboat man with fleas in his crotch.

Number of insects captured--Description of the leaves and their appendages or tentacles--Preliminary sketch of the action of the various parts, and of the manner in which insects are captured--Duration of the inflection of the tentacles--Nature of the secretion--Manner in which insects are carried to the centre of the leaf--Evidence that the glands have the power of absorption--Small size of the roots.

Inflection of the exterior tentacles owing to the glands of the disc being excited by repeated touches, or by objects left in contact with them--Difference in the action of bodies yielding and not yielding soluble nitrogenous matter--Inflection of the exterior tentacles directly caused by objects left in contact with their glands--Periods of commencing Inflection and of subsequent reexpansion--Extreme minuteness of the particles causing Inflection--Action under water--Inflection of the exterior tentacles when their glands are excited by repeated touches--Falling drops of water do not cause Inflection.

Within a century, the language was established: a Samoyedic Lithuanian dialect of Guarani, with classical Arabian inflections.

English, which, while successful as to grammar and accentuation, did not escape the ludicrous in a certain stiltedness of tone and inflection, from which intrusion of the would-be gentleman, his father, a simple, old-fashioned man, shrank with more of dislike than he was willing to be conscious of.

Quick inflection depends partly on the quantity of the substance given, so that many glands are simultaneously affected, partly on the facility with which it is penetrated and liquefied by the secretion, partly on its nature, but chiefly on the presence of exciting matter already in solution.

We have seen that a decoction of cabbageleaves excites the most powerful inflection.

I find it stated by several writers that curare has no influence on sarcode or protoplasm, and we have seen that, though curare excites some degree of inflection, it causes very little aggregation of the protoplasm.

We shall hereafter see what excessively small doses of certain organic fluids and saline solutions cause strongly marked inflection.

The inflection excited by the other salts of ammonia is probably due solely to their nitrogen,--on the same principle that nitrogenous organic fluids act powerfully, whilst nonnitrogenous organic fluids are powerless.

The inflections of Ymirian, alien, liquid, but nevertheless respectful.

You have much less chance now than before, I believe: I am too familiar with your balance, your walk, your eye movement, your inflections, and your strength for you to surprise me by very much.