Definition of deflect in English:

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Pronunciation: /dəˈflekt/


[with object]
1Cause (something) to change direction by interposing something; turn aside from a straight course: the bullet was deflected harmlessly into the ceiling figurative he attempted to deflect attention away from his private life
More example sentences
  • As Church settles in at the table, she is neither striving to be the centre of attention nor attempting to deflect it.
  • To be worn with a skirt and a perfect pedicure, of course, to deflect the nagging thought that just maybe, with all this yoga, I am turning into a hippie.
  • The vixen stopped short just six feet from him and gave a single warning cough, which deflected the cubs aside like bullets ricocheting from his legs.
turn aside/away, divert, avert, sidetrack;
distract, draw away;
block, parry, fend off, stave off
1.1 [no object] (Of an object) change direction after hitting something: the ball deflected off his body
More example sentences
  • Paul Cuddy took a free from out near the middle of the field and as Darren Rooney and Sean Corcoran went up for the ball it deflected off the centre back's hurley and into the net.
  • Dowley was unlucky to see her own hat-trick opportunity disallowed after a thunderous short corner strike was judged to have illegally deflected off a defender.
  • A long ball from Derby deflected off a York defender to make the score 2-0.
bounce, glance, ricochet, carom;
diverge, deviate, veer, swerve, slew
1.2Cause (someone) to deviate from an intended purpose: she refused to be deflected from anything she had set her mind on
More example sentences
  • We are deflected from our driving purpose - to keep readers informed.
  • Having arrived at that belief he was never deflected from it and he spent the rest of his life working to secure its remedy.
  • By not looking at our assumptions we are deflected from pursuing enquiries which may be of value.
1.3Cause (something) to change orientation: the compass needle is deflected from magnetic north by metal in the aircraft
More example sentences
  • Although these ultrahigh-energy cosmic rays are relatively rare, they are deflected less by magnetic fields.
  • They are deflected by magnetic fields between us and the source, or they interact with other particles, or they decay in flight.
  • The light wave is deflected from the original path.


Mid 16th century: from Latin deflectere, from de- 'away from' + flectere 'to bend'.

  • 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 deflect

affect, bisect, bull-necked, collect, confect, connect, correct, defect, deject, detect, direct, effect, eject, elect, erect, expect, infect, inflect, inject, inspect, interconnect, interject, intersect, misdirect, neglect, object, perfect, project, prospect, protect, reflect, reject, respect, resurrect, sect, select, subject, suspect, transect, unchecked, Utrecht

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: de·flect

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