diffraction

[dih-frak-shuhn]
noun Physics.
1.
the phenomenon exhibited by wave fronts that, passing the edge of an opaque body, are modulated, thereby causing a redistribution of energy within the front: it is detectable in light waves by the presence of a pattern of closely spaced dark and light bands (diffraction pattern) at the edge of a shadow.
2.
the bending of waves, especially sound and light waves, around obstacles in their path.

Origin:
1665–75; < Neo-Latin diffrāctiōn- (stem of diffrāctiō) a breaking up, equivalent to Latin diffrāct(us) broken up (past participle of diffringere) + -iōn- -ion. See dif-, fraction

diffraction, diffusion, reflection, rarefaction, refraction.
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World English Dictionary
diffraction (dɪˈfrækʃən)
 
n
1.  physics a deviation in the direction of a wave at the edge of an obstacle in its path
2.  any phenomenon caused by diffraction and interference of light, such as the formation of light and dark fringes by the passage of light through a small aperture
3.  deflection of sound waves caused by an obstacle or by nonhomogeneity of a medium
 
[C17: from New Latin diffractiō a breaking to pieces, from Latin diffringere to shatter, from dis- apart + frangere to break]

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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

diffraction
1670s, from Fr. diffraction, from Mod.L. diffractionem, from L. diffrac-, stem of diffringere "break in pieces," from dis- "apart" + frangere "to break" (see fraction).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

diffraction dif·frac·tion (dĭ-frāk'shən)
n.
Change in the directions and intensities of a group of waves after passing by an obstacle or through an aperture.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
diffraction   (dĭ-frāk'shən)  Pronunciation Key 
The bending and spreading of a wave, such as a light wave, around the edge of an object. See more at wave.
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Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

diffraction definition


The breaking up of an incoming wave by some sort of geometrical structure — for example, a series of slits — followed by reconstruction of the wave by interference. Diffraction of light is characterized by alternate bands of light and dark or bands of different colors.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
But this x-ray machine has been augmented with x-ray diffraction technology
  that increases the machine's accuracy.
But physicists' ability to work with both types of waves is limited by
  scattering effects called diffraction.
The diffracted light is reflected onto a piece of paper which displays the
  diffraction pattern.
It is important for electron diffraction, so that fits.
Image for diffraction
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