Etymology
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Words related to refraction

re- 

word-forming element meaning "back, back from, back to the original place;" also "again, anew, once more," also conveying the notion of "undoing" or "backward," etc. (see sense evolution below), c. 1200, from Old French re- and directly from Latin re- an inseparable prefix meaning "again; back; anew, against."

Watkins (2000) describes this as a "Latin combining form conceivably from Indo-European *wret-, metathetical variant of *wert- "to turn." De Vaan says the "only acceptable etymology" for it is a 2004 explanation which reconstructs a root in PIE *ure "back."

In earliest Latin the prefix became red- before vowels and h-, a form preserved in redact, redeem, redolent, redundant, redintegrate, and, in disguise, render (v.). In some English words from French and Italian re- appears as ra- and the  following consonant is often doubled (see rally (v.1)).

The many meanings in the notion of "back" give re- its broad sense-range: "a turning back; opposition; restoration to a former state; "transition to an opposite state." From the extended senses in "again," re- becomes "repetition of an action," and in this sense it is extremely common as a formative element in English, applicable to any verb. OED writes that it is "impossible to attempt a complete record of all the forms resulting from its use," and adds that "The number of these is practically infinite ...."   

Often merely intensive, and in many of the older borrowings from French and Latin the precise sense of re- is forgotten, lost in secondary senses, or weakened beyond recognition, so that it has no apparent semantic content (receive, recommend, recover, reduce, recreate, refer, religion, remain, request, require). There seem to have been more such words in Middle English than after, e.g. recomfort (v.) "to comfort, console; encourage;" recourse (n.) "a process, way, course." Recover in Middle English also could mean "obtain, win" (happiness, a kingdom, etc.) with no notion of getting something back, also "gain the upper hand, overcome; arrive at;" also consider the legal sense of recovery as "obtain (property) by judgment or legal proceedings." 

And, due to sound changes and accent shifts, re- sometimes entirely loses its identity as a prefix (rebel, relic, remnant, restive, rest (n.2) "remainder," rally (v.1) "bring together"). In a few words it is reduced to r-, as in ransom (a doublet of redemption), rampart, etc.

It was used from Middle English in forming words from Germanic as well as Latin elements (rebuild, refill, reset, rewrite), and was used so even in Old French (regret, regard, reward, etc.).

Prefixed to a word beginning with e, re- is separated by a hyphen, as re-establish, re-estate, re-edify, etc. ; or else the second e has a dieresis over it: as, reëstablish, reëmbark, etc. The hyphen is also sometimes used to bring out emphatically the sense of repetition or iteration : as, sung and re-sung. The dieresis is not used over other vowels than e when re is prefixed : thus, reinforce, reunite, reabolish. [Century Dictionary, 1895]
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*bhreg- 

Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to break."

It forms all or part of: anfractuous; Brabant; bracken; brake (n.1) "stopping device for a wheel;" brake (n.2) "kind of fern;" brash; breach; break; breccia; breeches; brioche; chamfer; defray; diffraction; fractal; fraction; fractious; fracture; fragile; fragility; fragment; frail; frangible; infraction; infringe; irrefragable; irrefrangible; naufragous; ossifrage; refract; refraction; refrain (n.); refrangible; sassafras; saxifrage; suffragan; suffrage.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit (giri)-bhraj "breaking-forth (out of the mountains);" Latin frangere "to break (something) in pieces, shatter, fracture;" Lithuanian braškėti "crash, crack;" Old Irish braigim "break wind;" Gothic brikan, Old English brecan "to break."

refract (v.)

"to bend or break the natural course of" (light, sound, heat, etc.), 1610s, back-formation from refraction, and in part from Latin refractus, past participle of refringere "to break up," from re- "back" (see re-) + combining form of frangere "to break" (from PIE root *bhreg- "to break"). Related: Refracted; refracting.

refractory (adj.)

"stubborn, obstinate, perverse, resisting, unyielding," 1610s (earlier refractorious, 1550s, refractary, c. 1600), from Latin refractarius "obstinate, stubborn," from past participle stem of refringere "to break up" (see refraction). The notion is said to be "breaking back" all attempts to enforce obedience. The English spelling was corrupted on analogy of adjectives in -ory. Related: Refractorily; refractoriness.

refrain (n.)

"regularly recurring phrase in a poem, chorus, or song," late 14c., refreine, from Old French refrain "chorus" (13c.), an alteration of refrait, a noun use of the past participle of refraindre "to repeat," also "to break off," from Vulgar Latin *refrangere "break off," alteration of Latin refringere "break up, break open" (see refraction) by influence of frangere "to break."

The word was further influenced in French by cognate Provençal refranhar "singing of birds, refrain." The notion is of something that causes a song to "break off" then resume. OED says not common before 19c. For "act of refraining," refraining (mid-14c.) and refrainment (1711) have been used.