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fax vs facsimile

Discussion in 'English Only' started by deslenguada, Oct 1, 2008.

  1. deslenguada

    deslenguada Senior Member

    Spain
    Castellano
    Hello everybody!

    Is there any difference of use of these two words? (Well, I actually think the word "facsimile" is abit old-fashioned and it is only used as a sustantive, am I right?)

    Thank you in advance.
     
  2. languageGuy Senior Member

    Kansas City, MO
    USA and English
    Yes, I think, there is a difference to me. A fax is an electronically transmitted document. A facsimile is a duplicate or copy of something, often documents that were not transmitted or artworks.
     
  3. Kevin Beach

    Kevin Beach Senior Member

    Fax is derived from facsimile, meaning a "copy", but they are not the same.
     
  4. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    This septic isle!
    NW Englandish English
    One does still occasionally see business letterheads which will say:

    Telephone: 0123-456-789
    Facsimile: 0987-654-321

    This always seems to me to be someone wanting to show off that they know what the 'full' version of fax is. Fax is the 'standard' term for that particular technological doodah.
     
  5. George French Senior Member

    English - UK
    I suppose just refering to a slightly dated dictionary helps.

    Facsimile has a primary meaning of:
    Exact copy of writing, printing a picture etc. (see also languageGuy's post)

    Its secondary meaning is the same as Fax. Fax is basically a facsimile transmission.

    I doubt if I have ever received a fax that is an exact copy! But technology is improving... :)

    But of course usage changes.....

    GM..
     
  6. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    New York
    USA - English
    Facsimile is merely the longer, older, and less-common-today form of the more commonly used word fax, just as "luncheon" is the longer, older, and less-common-today form of the more commonly used word "lunch".
     
  7. kitenok Senior Member

    I usually agree with you, GWB, but I think there is an important distinction to be made between the lunch-luncheon pair and the fax-facsimile pair. Lunch is an abbreviated form that has the same meaning as its predecessor, luncheon, and has now largely replaced it in every sense. Fax (as indicated in a few posts above) is an abbreviated form that has become standard only in one narrow sense of its predecessor, facsimile. Facsimile is still very much standard in every sense that predates the technology that fax refers to. We can come up with a minimal pair for fax-facsimile:

    I have a facsimile of Shakespeare's signature.
    I have a fax of Shakespeare's signature.

    No minimal pair is possible with lunch-luncheon. One form has wholly replaced the other.
     
  8. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    This septic isle!
    NW Englandish English
    I assumed that as Deslenguada's original question was about fax vs. facsimile, she was referring solely to the name of that particular machine.
    facsimile machine > fax machine > fax is how I see it.
     
  9. katie_here Senior Member

    England
    England/English
    If it helps, when I first started working, (1981) we used to send Facsimile Transmissions, and documents were sent via a telecommunication system. Nowadays we send fax's and emails.
     
  10. languageGuy Senior Member

    Kansas City, MO
    USA and English
    Or was she talking about the documents set by said machine?
     
  11. katie_here Senior Member

    England
    England/English
    I think they are one and the same.

    Facsimile machine and a facsimile, fax machine and a fax.

    As far as I understand it, fax is a shortened version of facsimile because the first syllable is pronounced the same, even though it's spelt differently.
     
  12. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    I think this is an excellent point. A reproduction of the statue David by Michelangelo can be called a perfect facsimile of the original, but it cannot be a perfect fax of the original.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2008
  13. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    New York
    USA - English
    You just haven't tried to push it through the machine hard enough, James.:)
     
  14. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    This septic isle!
    NW Englandish English
    I'm sure none of us would even dream of deleting such a good gag, GWB:D
     
  15. deslenguada

    deslenguada Senior Member

    Spain
    Castellano
    Thank you guys! Now I know there is a difference between these two words, I wasn´t sure enogh if there was any. :)
     
  16. Dimcl Senior Member

    British Columbia, Canada
    Canadian English
    Unless it's a solid imaging machine, commonly called a 3-D fax.
     

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