Meaning of reflex in English:


Pronunciation /ˈriːflɛks/

See synonyms for reflex

Translate reflex into Spanish


  • 1An action that is performed without conscious thought as a response to a stimulus.

    ‘a newborn baby is equipped with basic reflexes’
    • ‘These are inhibitory reflexes, excited by deglutition, by gastric distension, and by intestinal dilatation.’
    • ‘Secretion into the bloodstream is increased by the presence of food, particularly protein, in the stomach, and is also stimulated by neural reflexes.’
    • ‘All his paradigm required was linking and relinking stimuli and responses: a salivary reflex, once produced by food, was now evoked by a bell signaling the coming of food.’
    • ‘Neurologic examination revealed symmetric reflexes with normal sensation and strength.’
    • ‘My patient still had a few elicitable neurological reflexes.’
    • ‘It must be remembered that some individuals do not have a blink reflex, due to neuro-muscular problems with the eye, and therefore are at serious risk from this laser exposure.’
    • ‘These receptors also excite the defecation reflex.’
    • ‘Families frequently misdiagnose their loved ones' involuntary muscle reflexes as consciousness.’
    • ‘Pavlov's studies investigated the way in which environmental stimuli inspired biological reflexes in animals.’
    • ‘Deep tendon reflexes disappear within the first few days of symptom onset.’
    • ‘Monitor urine output, deep tendon reflexes and serum levels.’
    • ‘Sleep on your back - when the spit collects back there, it triggers a swallowing reflex.’
    • ‘The medulla controls this involuntary swallowing reflex, although voluntary swallowing may be initiated by the cerebral cortex.’
    • ‘Either mechanical tapping or electrical stimulation of the supraorbital regions may evoke the blink reflex.’
    • ‘He saw people as conditioned reflexes, not souls with intentions, willpower and choice.’
    • ‘They act on the brain to hold back the cough reflex.’
    • ‘Two significant complications of lung transplantation include the impairment of the cough reflex and mucociliary clearance.’
    • ‘Border Collies have a high startle reflex, which can sometimes endanger their lives.’
    • ‘Elevation of the larynx during the swallowing reflex protects the airway and opens the upper esophageal sphincter.’
    • ‘Thinking about your baby can stimulate the let-down reflex.’
    1. 1.1(in reflexology) a response in a part of the body to stimulation of a corresponding point on the feet, hands, or head.
      as modifier ‘reflex points’
      • ‘The reflexes in the feet are stimulated with various massage techniques to promote healing in the body.’
      • ‘The points on the ear have their reflex to different bodily functions or organs.’
      • ‘When the nervous system becomes involved, the muscle tendon bundles remain hypertonic and pain reflexes in the area are activated.’
      • ‘Applying pressure to reflex points makes it possible to interact with the interconnected systems of the body at an energetic level and restore homeostatic function.’
  • 2A thing which is determined by and reproduces the essential features or qualities of something else.

    ‘politics was no more than a reflex of economics’
    • ‘This individualism was perhaps a natural reflex of an economy bursting forth from its medieval limitations.’
    • ‘In doing so they constitute a public and communal reflex of that private, complex, individual and highly personal process through which people cope with, and come to terms with, the vicissitudes of life.’
    • ‘Her feet followed his automatically, as a reflex from many hour of being tortured in etiquette, posture, and dance classes.’
    • ‘That is to say, there are referential and quantificational uses of indefinite descriptions and these are a reflex of a genuine semantical ambiguity.’
    1. 2.1A word formed by development from an earlier stage of a language.
      • ‘Orza is the Italian reflex of a common Romance word generally thought to be of Latin origin.’
  • 3 archaic A reflected source of light.

    • ‘the reflex from the window lit his face’


  • 1(of an action) performed without conscious thought as an automatic response to a stimulus.

    ‘sneezing is a reflex action’
    • ‘The same event, however, can take place without a swallow as a reflex response to mechanical stimulation of the esophagus.’
    • ‘In the respiratory tract, complex reflex responses to the gastric refluxate occur in children by three mechanisms.’
    • ‘The mechanism by which the body senses and responds to changes in blood pressure by reflex vasodilation or contraction of peripheral vessels is impaired.’
    • ‘We now know that this reflex response is initiated from the class of sensory receptors called muscle spindle receptors.’
    • ‘The active ingredients in this were alkaloids of belladonna, which we now know had the effect of inhibiting cholinergic neurotransmission and thereby reflex bronchoconstriction.’
    • ‘Later it becomes a reflex action in response to the baby's cry or just by thinking about the baby or feeding.’
    • ‘It is a complex reflex response to the stimulation of the cough receptors of the lung.’
    • ‘The tongue directs the bolus of chewed food to the pharynx as an initial step in the involuntary reflex swallowing mechanism.’
    • ‘What he found was that every bird in a particular species has certain inflexible patterns of behavior, reflex responses to very specific stimuli.’
    • ‘Muscle spindles are primarily influenced by changes in length and are responsible for reflex contraction of the skeletal muscles in response to stretching.’
    • ‘Certainly, the very rapid respiratory rates seen during the tidal breathing collection in some of the children in this study must be attributed to reflex or cortical responses to testing.’
    • ‘Almost as if it were a reflex response, journalists and some scientific researchers alike blame technology and changes to family life for childhood obesity.’
    • ‘So in some quarters the reflex response to the presidential election of November 2004 has been to emphasise how little has changed.’
    • ‘Hold fast - put one of your fingers in your baby's palm and enjoy his reflex response as he grips it tightly.’
    • ‘Even the tears that fell were automatic, more a reflex action than reflection of any real emotion.’
    • ‘During the initial inflammatory phase of this process the muscle responds with a reflex spasm which is the tightness or knot you can feel.’
    • ‘The inhibitor of nitric oxide synthase failed to inhibit this response, and it also did not potentiate the reflex cholinergic contractions of the trachea produced by bradykinin.’
    • ‘This suggests that reflex mechanisms are diminished during the transition to sleep.’
    • ‘A cough is a reflex action to clear the airways of mucus, phlegm, irritants or a foreign body.’
    • ‘In a reflex action the body cuts the supply of blood to the arms and legs preventing swimming, and people then sink and drown.’
    instinctive, automatic, mechanical, involuntary, knee-jerk, reflexive, impulsive, intuitive, spontaneous, unconscious, subliminal, unthinking, unpremeditated, unconditioned, untaught, unlearned, unintentional, unwitting, inadvertent, accidental
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  • 2(of an angle) exceeding 180°.

  • 3 rare (of light) reflected.

    1. 3.1Bent or turned backwards.
    2. 3.2(of a thought) directed or turned back upon the mind itself; introspective.
      • ‘an act of consciousness is a reflex act with its own object, viz. the act of knowledge itself’


Early 16th century (as a noun denoting reflection): from Latin reflexus ‘a bending back’, from reflectere ‘bend back’ (see reflect).