What is a facsimile? Definition, usage, synonyms, and etymology

LAST UPDATE: July 30th, 2017

A facsimile is an exact copy of an item, often a document.

It is also another term for “fax.”

Defining “facsimile”

According to the Oxford Dictionaries, “facsimile” is defined as:

An exact copy, especially of written or printed material.

‘a facsimile of the manuscript’

and also as:

another term for fax
‘She accepted the offer by return facsimile the same day.’
1:  an exact copy A facsimile of the world’s first computer was exhibited at the museum.
2:  a system of transmitting and reproducing graphic matter (such as printing or still pictures) by means of signals sent over telephone lines


Top synonyms of “facsimile” according to Thesaurus.com are “likeness,” “photocopy,” and “replica.”

Etymology (origin)

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, facsimile is derived from the latin “fac simile” meaning “make similar.” with an origin of 1691.

The Oxford dictionaries lists the origin of facsimile as a 16th century word derived from the Latin “facre” (make) and simils (like).