Mirror vs. Reflect: What's the Difference?
"Mirror" is a noun referring to a reflective surface, usually glass, while "Reflect" is a verb meaning to throw back light or sound without absorbing it.
"Mirror" and "Reflect" are closely related in the context of optics and everyday experiences. A "Mirror" is a physical object, typically made of glass with a reflective coating on one side that allows people to see a reflection of themselves or their surroundings. In contrast, "Reflect" is the action that occurs when light, sound, or another wave hits a surface and bounces back.
One can use a "Mirror" to see their reflection, but it's the light from their image that the "Mirror" causes to "Reflect" back to their eyes that enables them to see that image. The "Mirror" is the tool, and "Reflect" is the action that the tool facilitates.
Beyond their literal meanings, both "Mirror" and "Reflect" have metaphorical uses in the language. A person might say that a movie "Mirrors" real-life events, indicating that it closely resembles or represents those events. Similarly, one might say they need time to "Reflect" on a decision, meaning they need time to think deeply or carefully about it.
In some contexts, "Mirror" can also be used as a verb. For instance, "Her actions mirror her words" means her actions closely resemble or are consistent with her words. Still, "Reflect" remains more versatile as a verb, applicable in both literal (like light reflection) and figurative (like reflecting on thoughts) scenarios.
In essence, while "Mirror" commonly refers to the physical object providing a reflection, "Reflect" is the act or process by which that reflection is made possible, either physically through light or metaphorically through representation.
Part of Speech
Noun (can also be used as a verb)
A reflective surface, usually glass
To throw back light, sound, or an image
Describes objects or symbolic resemblance
Describes the action of bouncing back or contemplation
Physical vs. Abstract
Physical object (or verb indicating resemblance)
Action or process, both physical and abstract
Old French "mireor"
Latin "reflectere" (to bend back)
Mirror and Reflect Definitions
(Verb) To reflect as a mirror does.
His actions mirror his intentions.
To think deeply or carefully about.
She took a moment to reflect on her choices.
A pattern for imitation.
He set a mirror for good behavior.
To bring discredit or honor to someone or something.
His actions reflect well on the entire team.
A polished surface that reflects a clear image.
She looked in the mirror to check her makeup.
To throw back light, heat, or sound without absorbing it.
The surface reflects the sunlight.
A surface capable of reflecting sufficient undiffused light to form an image of an object placed in front of it. Also called looking glass.
To manifest or appear as a reflected image.
The mountains reflect in the calm lake.
Something that faithfully reflects or gives a true picture of something else.
To throw or bend back (light or sound, for example) from a surface.
Something worthy of imitation.
To give back or show an image of (an object); mirror.
To reflect in or as if in a mirror
"The city mirrors many of the greatest moments of Western culture" (Olivier Bernier).
To make apparent; express or manifest
Her work reflects intelligence.
A smooth surface, usually made of glass with reflective material painted on the underside, that reflects light so as to give an image of what is in front of it.
To bring as a consequence
The victory reflects credit on the coach.
(figuratively) An object, person, or event that reflects or gives a picture of another.
(Archaic) To bend back.
A disk, website or other resource that contains replicated data.
To be bent or thrown back
Her voice reflected off the canyon walls.
A mirror carp.
To give something back, as light or sound
A shiny surface that reflects well.
(historical) A kind of political self-help book, advising kings, princes, etc. on how to behave.
To give evidence of the characteristics or qualities of someone or something
That student's performance reflects well on the whole school.
(transitive) Of an event, activity, behaviour, etc, to be identical to; to be a copy of.
To bring blame or discredit
Hasty preparation of the report will reflect on you.
To create something identical to (a web site, etc.).
To think seriously.
(transitive) To reflect, as in a mirror.
To express carefully considered thoughts
In the essay, he reflects on his career.
A looking-glass or a speculum; any glass or polished substance that forms images by the reflection of rays of light.
And in her hand she held a mirror bright,Wherein her face she often viewèd fair.
(transitive) To bend back (light, etc.) from a surface.
A mirror reflects the light that shines on it.
That which gives a true representation, or in which a true image may be seen; hence, a pattern; an exemplar.
She is mirour of all courtesy.
O goddess, heavenly bright,Mirror of grace and majesty divine.
(intransitive) To be bent back (light, etc.) from a surface.
The moonlight reflected from the surface of water.
(transitive) To mirror, or show the image of something.
The shop window reflected his image as he walked past.
To reflect, as in a mirror.
(intransitive) To be mirrored.
His image reflected from the shop window as he walked past.
To copy or duplicate; to mimic or imitate; as, the files at Project Gutenberg were mirrored on several other ftp sites around the world.
(transitive) To agree with; to closely follow.
Entries in English dictionaries aim to reflect common usage.
To have a close resemblance to; as, his opinions often mirrored those of his wife.
(transitive) To give evidence of someone's or something's character etc.
The team's victory reflects the Captain's abilities.
The teacher's ability reflects well on the school.
Polished surface that forms images by reflecting light
(intransitive) To think seriously; to ponder or consider.
People do that sort of thing every day, without ever stopping to reflect on the consequences.
A faithful depiction or reflection;
The best mirror is an old friend
To bend back; to give a backwa d turn to; to throw back; especially, to cause to return after striking upon any surface; as, a mirror reflects rays of light; polished metals reflect heat.
Let me mind the reader to reflect his eye on our quotations.
Bodies close together reflect their own color.
Reflect as if in a mirror;
The smallest pond at night mirrors the firmament above
To give back an image or likeness of; to mirror.
Nature is the glass reflecting God,As by the sea reflected is the sun.
Reflect or resemble;
The plane crash in Milan mirrored the attack in the World Trade Center
To throw back light, heat, or the like; to return rays or beams.
Something that faithfully depicts or represents.
The test is a mirror of the students' abilities.
To be sent back; to rebound as from a surface; to revert; to return.
Whose virtues will, I hope,Reflect on Rome, as Titan's rays on earth.
An exemplary model.
She is the mirror of perfection.
To throw or turn back the thoughts upon anything; to contemplate. Specifically: To attend earnestly to what passes within the mind; to attend to the facts or phenomena of consciousness; to use attention or earnest thought; to meditate; especially, to think in relation to moral truth or rules.
We can not be said to reflect upon any external object, except so far as that object has been previously perceived, and its image become part and parcel of our intellectual furniture.
All men are concious of the operations of their own minds, at all times, while they are awake, but there few who reflect upon them, or make them objects of thought.
As I much reflected, much I mourned.
To cast reproach; to cause censure or dishonor.
Errors of wives reflect on husbands still.
Neither do I reflect in the least upon the memory of his late majesty.
Manifest or bring back;
This action reflects his true beliefs
To throw or bend back or reflect (from a surface);
A mirror in the sun can reflect light into a person's eyes
Sound is reflected well in this auditorium
Reflect deeply on a subject;
I mulled over the events of the afternoon
Philosophers have speculated on the question of God for thousands of years
The scientist must stop to observe and start to excogitate
Be bright by reflecting or casting light;
Drive carefully--the wet road reflects
Give evidence of a certain behavior;
His lack of interest in the project reflects badly on him
Give evidence of the quality of;
The mess in his dorm room reflects on the student
To express a thought or opinion resulting from reflection.
He reflected that this was the right decision.
Is "Reflect" only used in the context of light?
No, it can refer to sound, heat, or even abstract contemplation.
Are all shiny surfaces "Mirrors"?
No, not all shiny surfaces provide a clear reflection like mirrors do.
Can "Reflect" mean to think about something?
Yes, "reflect" can mean to think deeply or carefully about something.
What causes a surface to "Reflect" light?
The smoothness and type of material can cause surfaces to reflect light.
Are "Mirror" images always accurate representations?
They are reversed images, not exact duplicates of the original.
Why do we see our reflection in a "Mirror"?
Because mirrors reflect light back to our eyes from the objects in front of them.
Is a "Mirror" always made of glass?
While commonly made of glass, mirrors can also be made from other reflective materials.
Can "Mirror" be used as a verb?
Yes, e.g., "Her actions mirror her words."
What's another word for "Mirror" in the context of representation?
An "emulation" or "depiction" can be synonyms in certain contexts.
Can "Mirror" have a symbolic meaning?
Yes, it can symbolize truth, reflection, or clarity.
Are there "Mirrors" in nature?
Yes, calm water bodies can act as natural mirrors.
Is the reflection in a "Mirror" real?
It's a real image, but it's reversed and lacks physical substance.
How can I use "Reflect" in a sentence about thought?
"I need some time to reflect on my options."
Can water "Reflect" an image?
Yes, calm water can reflect images like a mirror.
How is a "Mirror" different from a glass window?
A mirror has a reflective coating, while most windows are transparent without such coating.
Can "Reflect" be used in a negative context?
Yes, e.g., "His actions reflect poorly on his character."
Are there different types of "Mirrors"?
Yes, including plane, convex, and concave mirrors.
Can sound be "Reflected"?
Yes, this is commonly referred to as an echo.
Does "Reflect" always indicate a perfect duplication?
No, some surfaces may reflect distorted or partial images.
How does a surface's color affect its ability to "Reflect" light?
Darker colors generally absorb more light, while lighter colors reflect more.
Written bySawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.
Edited byHuma Saeed
Huma is a renowned researcher acclaimed for her innovative work in Difference Wiki. Her dedication has led to key breakthroughs, establishing her prominence in academia. Her contributions continually inspire and guide her field.