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

LAST UPDATE: July 30th, 2017

A telefax is a word that can be used interchangeably with ‘fax’ or ‘telefacsimile’.

It 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 Merriam Webster dictionary, “telefax” is simple the same as the second definition of “facsimile”:

:  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 “fax” according to Thesaurus.com are “facsimile,” “facsimile machine,” “telefacsimile,” and “telephotograph.”

Etymology (origin)

Merriam-Webster lists the origin of the word “telefax” having a first known use in 1943.

A search of Google books shows the use of the term in a 1944’s Volume 51 of the Public Utilities Reports by Lawyers Cooperative Publishing Company.

Western Union’s American Telegraphy after 100 years (published in 1944 as well) includes the line “… although the extension of the telefax program had to interrupted on account of the war…” indicating that the term was in use before 1942.

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.