I was looking for the synonyms of the noun mirror:

A surface capable of reflecting sufficient undiffused light to form an image of an object placed in front of it.

The majority of the synonyms are compounds containing the noun glass (looking glass, hand glass, cheval glass, etc.)

Are there some single-word, poetic, or even archaic synonyms for it?

  • 1
    What's wrong with reflector?
    – SrJoven
    Aug 4, 2014 at 19:54
  • 2
    Speculum is probly the word you want. Latin neuter noun for mirror (mirrors were made of polished bronze, pre-glasstech), from the Latin verb speciō 'look at'. For more than one could possibly want to know about the making of a speculum, see Avram Davidson's magnificent fantasy novel The Phoenix and the Mirror. Aug 4, 2014 at 19:55
  • +1 for reflector. Can't get better than that. Even works for mirrors that reflect things other than light (e.g. sound) or that reflect light frequencies we cannot see. Abstracts from shape and material, just as it should.
    – Drew
    Aug 5, 2014 at 3:52
  • 2
    @Drew: Not really a synonym then, is it? :) Also, in my mind, both reflector and speculum have specific widely known specialist meanings that make it quite dissimilar to mirror.
    – Amadan
    Aug 5, 2014 at 6:46
  • Then use a foreign word?
    – SrJoven
    Aug 5, 2014 at 12:51

2 Answers 2


William Perry, The Synonymous, Etymological, and Pronouncing English Dictionary (1805) offers two synonyms for mirror: "looking-glass" and "speculum." As both Merriam-Webster’s Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary (2003) and John Lawler (above) point out, speculum is Latin for “mirror”; and the word has been in English since the fifteenth century, MW says. Today, of course, it has the rather unpoetical meaning “an instrument inserted into a bodily passage to facilitate visual inspection or medication” (again, MW’s words), but 250 years ago it did not. Here is the definition of speculum in Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language (1766):

SPECULUM. s. [Latin.] A mirror ; a looking glass.

The word is certainly old-fashioned (or even archaic) when used in the broad sense of “mirror”—but if people ask you why you chose it, you can gently refer them to Johnson’s Dictionary.


In the 1682 poem Religio Laici by Thomas Dryden, the poet simply uses glass to mean a mirror.

If others in the same glass better see

'Tis for themselves they look, but not for me:

This is backed up in Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language:

Glass: 3. A looking glass; a mirror. Dryden

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