Difference between reflection and refraction (easy definition :)Just an easy explanation

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felquilem eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Thank you for the question.  Reflection refers to the phenomenon of energy travelling in waves (light, sound, heat, etc)  toward a relatively solid object.  The portion of energy that doesn't penetrate, or travel through is said to be reflected from that object.  The face you see in a mirror is a reflection.  Refraction occurs when energy passes through an object and is separated into different wave lengths.  Light passing trhough a prism produces a spectrum of colors.  water waves striking the shore at an angle produce a refraction pattern on the sand. Sunlight through a window is refracted.

nicole8923 | Student

To begin with, both have to do with waves when they change direction as they pass from one medium to another.The difference is that reflection is when light is bounced off of a surface that resists a certain type of wave and refraction is when there is a change in direction of a wave when it passes into a new substance.

Reflection is when light is reflected, kinda like when you reflect light in a mirror. Refraction is when light bends, we see refraction in things like prisms or like the common ilution of the broken pencil or finger when placed halfway in a glass of water. 

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