Mammoth Memory

Concave lens

To remember the difference between convex and concave lenses or mirrors, always think:

Concave surfaces

Cave people lived in caves which were hollowed out of rocks. A concave surface curves inwards like the mouth of a cave (how easy is that!).

Cave people. Caves are hollowed out like concave lens.


Concave surfaces curve inward and convex ones don't (convex = curve outward).

A concave lens looks like the following:

Concave lens

But because concave lenses actually mean thinner in the middle than on the edges, a concave lens only needs to have one surface that curves inwards. The other can be flat.

Concave lenses with one flat side

NOTE: these are called planoconcave lenses and an easy way to remember this is to think that one surface is plane and "oh!", by the way, the other is concave.


A concave lens is a lens that possesses at least one surface that curves inwards.

Concave lenses are sometimes denoted by a symbol:

Concave lens symbol

This is drawn as a vertical line with inward-facing arrows to indicate the shape is thinner in the middle.

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