Easily Confused Words: Deflect vs. Reflect

[I recalled writing this post, but I looked and there was nothing here today. Gasp. So I rewrote it and saved it.]

Deflect and reflect are easily confused words.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary, but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted, or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway.

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Deflect (pronounced “dee-fleckt”) is a verb. It literally means to swerve or change direction. In communication and public speaking, it means to change topics, avoid responding to someone else.

Reflect (pronounced “ree-fleckt”) is a verb. It means to mirror or provide an vertically flipped image to a viewer. Figuratively, it means to follow or imitate another’s movements.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Delphi was a business and political reporter. He had noticed a disturbing trend in recent press conferences with CEOs and candidates for public office. Anytime a tough question was broached, they declined to provide a direct answer, they deflected. They answered with happier feel-good news, gave a vague answer, or just asked for someone else’s question in hopes of better odds for them.

He didn’t know if this might reflect a disturbing trend of disrespect for the press, or just fears of liability for the staff. 

 This post relates to another post: Easily Confused Words: Deflect vs. Deflate

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