A fax is a document that is transmitted between two fax machines.
It can also be used as a verb meaning the action of transmitting a document between two fax machines.
It can also be used as a shortened form of “fax machine.”
According to the Oxford Dictionaries, “fax” is defined as:
1. An exact copy of a document made by electronic scanning and transmitted as data by telecommunications links.
‘we got a three-page fax from her assistant’
1.1. [mass noun] The production or transmission of faxes.
‘he received the report by fax’
1.2. A machine for transmitting and receiving faxes.‘the equipment consists of four word processors, a fax, and a photocopier’
Send (a document) by fax.‘please fax the agreement to me’
1.1 Contact (someone) by fax.‘to obtain a brochure fax the agent’
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary “fax” is defined as:
2: a device used to send or receive facsimile communications
3: a facsimile communication
Top synonyms of “fax” according to Thesaurus.com are “copy,” “transmission,” and “duplicate.”
Merriam-Webster lists the origin of the word “fax” as “shortening & alteration” with the first known use as 1937.
The Oxford dictionaries list the origin of the word “fax” as “abbreviation of facsimile” with the first known use in the 1940s.
A search of the Google Ngram Viewer shows that the term “fax” heavily entered popular language in the 1980s.
Google’s Ngram viewer shows a number of mentions of “fax” as early as the 1600s. Every one of the mentions before the early 1900s that we’ve looked through can be attributed to:
- an quote from a foreign language
- a misspelling (or mis-scanned) of the word “fox”
- a word being hyphenated because of the end of a line, and a syllable is carried over to the next line (with words such as ‘Halifax’ or ‘Fairfax’)
- the proper use of the word “fax,” however in the context of contact information for a publishing company that and published a more recent version of a very old book.
Fax, facsimile, telefax, telefacsimile, or telecopier?
Fax, facsimile, telefax, telefacsimile, and telecopier can all be used interchangeably.
A facsimile can mean the exact same as the other terms, and it can also mean a copy or exact reproduction that is not sent over a distance.