Definition of inflection in English:

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Pronunciation: /ɪnˈflɛkʃ(ə)n/
(chiefly British also inflexion)


1 Grammar 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 word forms differing only in respect of inflections
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
conjugation, declension;
form, ending, case
1.1 [mass noun] The process or practice of inflecting words.
Example sentences
  • 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.
  • In sentences, inflection for case allows a certain freedom of word order, more or less as in Latin.
2 [mass noun] The modulation of intonation or pitch in the voice: she spoke slowly and without inflection [count noun]: the variety of his vocal inflections
More example sentences
  • In such services, both the minister and the congregation routinely use voice rhythm and vocal inflection to convey meaning.
  • On the other hand, they were superb ‘readers’ of voices, intonation, inflection, fear, evasion, demand.
  • 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.
stress, cadence, rhythm, accentuation, intonation, emphasis, modulation, metre, measure, rise and fall, swing, lilt, beat, change of pitch, change of tone, change of timbre
2.1The variation of the pitch of a musical note.
Example sentences
  • 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.
  • A flat, natural, or sharp sign can be placed above it, to indicate a chromatic inflection of the upper note.
  • In the second period, Balada's music was very abstract and dramatic, without melodic inflection and with a heavy reliance on avant-garde effects.
3chiefly Mathematics A change of curvature from convex to concave at a particular point on a curve: the point of inflection of the bell-shaped curve
More example sentences
  • However, the optimal cluster size depended on the point of inflection of the curve describing the relationship between female mating bias and cluster size.
  • 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.
  • The thresholds for low and high CRI are located at the inflexion points of the curve, embracing about 80% of the genes.
curving, curvature, bending, turning;
curve, bend, turn, bow, crook, angle, arc, arch



Pronunciation: /ɪnˈflɛkʃ(ə)n(ə)l/
Example sentences
  • Over time, synthetic languages have become more analytic, with the effect that inflexional morphology has repeatedly been simplified.
  • And as for the genitive form, it is formed by an inflectional process so productive that it applies to absolutely every new noun added to the language, and they can't possibly be serious about blocking it.
  • Every so often, though, an inflectional form is closely tied to one particular construction, and then it's tempting to identify the form with the construction (and with the semantics for the construction).


Example sentences
  • This paper presents an algorithm for unsupervised learning of morphological analysis and generation of inflectionally rich languages like Hindi.
  • To use morphological cues for syntactic bootstrapping, children must recognize that inflectionally varying words (e.g., pushes, pushed) are instances of the same word.


Example sentences
  • But it's Jazz's rumbling rapping that's become the band's trademark; inflectionless, existential rhyming that hovers over the thumping beats, anchoring the music with some unashamed profundity.
  • It's hard to describe the emotional effect those inflectionless beeps have on true fans, although they're more than happy to talk about it between themselves on dozens of discussion boards that have appeared on the internet.
  • Beck's voice is a blunt, inflectionless tool, but his somnambulant tone conveys a creepy sense of resigned ennui that will bring most listeners down but still draw them back for more.


Late Middle English (in the sense 'the action of bending inwards'): from Latin inflexio(n-), from the verb inflectere 'bend in, curve' (see inflect).

  • flex from early 16th century:

    This comes from the Latin flectere ‘to bend’. The electrical flex (early 20th century) is a shortening of flexible cord or cable, flexible being late Middle English and from the same source, as is deflect (mid 16th century) ‘bend away’. An inflection (Late Middle English) was originally an act of bending inwards, gaining its grammatical sense in the mid 17th century. Flexitime has been being worked, by those lucky enough to get it, since the 1970s.

Words that rhyme with inflection

abjection, affection, circumspection, collection, complexion, confection, connection, convection, correction, defection, deflection, dejection, detection, direction, ejection, election, genuflection, imperfection, infection, injection, inspection, insurrection, interconnection, interjection, intersection, introspection, lection, misdirection, objection, perfection, predilection, projection, protection, refection, reflection, rejection, resurrection, retrospection, section, selection, subjection, transection, vivisection

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: in|flec¦tion

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