Fr.: principe de Huygens
Every point of a → wavefront may be considered as a center of a secondary disturbance which gives rise to spherical wavelets, and the wavefront at any later instant may be regarded as the envelope of these wavelets. This statement suffices to account for the laws of → reflection and → refraction, and the approximately straight line propagation of light through large apertures, but it fails to account for → diffraction, the deviations from exact straight line propagation of light. Huygens' principle was later extended by Fresnel and led to the formulation of → Huygens-Fresnel principle, which is of great importance in the theory of diffraction.